Quick Tip: Others Opinions are Not that Important

Hey Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well!

I think its safe to say that, at least to some extent, everyone likes to gain the acceptance or approval of others.  I know I sure do.

I think that its human nature to desire to be well-liked since we humans are such social beings.

I think that this need for approval becomes problematic when we constantly think about, worry about, and stress over how other people will judge every step or action that we take.

The reason why I felt the need to briefly write about this is because I was recently spending time with a dear friend who has a normal office job but on the side she also has a very small business as well. She asked me if I had told my parents about her business and I admitted that I had (because as far as I can remember she never told me that I shouldn’t tell anyone about her business)

After my admission she briefly became very sad and I could really see the intense agony in her face and she told me that she did not want anyone to find out about it because then people would start talking about her behind her back. (As a side note, I don’t know why she was worried about people talking behind her back because I think that starting a small business is a very impressive thing to do).

The truth is that when I told my parents about my friends’ business venture they were very impressed and then they never discussed the matter again. This simple incident reminded me that sometimes we make things a bigger deal than they really are. We fear that others are judging us and talking about us behind our backs but in reality they are not doing any such thing because they are usually too busy and/or stressed with their own lives.

Lets say worst comes to worst you do something and people do start talking about you behind your back. I know that this would be a nightmarish situation for many people including myself. However, the reality is its more than likely that people are not going to talk about what you did or what happened to you forever.

More often, they might discuss you among themselves for a few minutes and then they might go to a different topic or soon afterwards things will come up in their own lives such that you are probably going to be the last thing they are worried about.

Also, please remember that people who do talk behind your back are far from perfect themselves and remember that their words do not make you any less successful, likeable, or less of a good person. Their words cannot harm you as long as you don’t let those words affect the way that you think or act.

I know that this is much easier said than done but I think that instead of worrying and agonizing about what others think about us we should instead focus on being the best version of ourselves that we can be and making sure that the decisions that we make are true to our own beliefs and values.

With Love,

Yasmin

Quick Tip: Just Listen

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Normally when we are having a face to face conversation with another person we maintain eye contact and we use our eyes to guess how the other person is feeling.

Basically, most of us believe that the best way to figure out how the other person is feeling is to focus on their facial expressions.

However, the latest research from Yale University seems to refute that belief. Researchers at Yale conducted five experiments and they discovered that people who listened to what the other person said and how they said it were able to make a better judgement of the speakers emotional states as compared to people who just focused on the speakers facial cues and expressions.

Researchers concluded that perhaps the best way to figure out how someone is feeling and to empathize with them better is to simply listen to them.

With Love,

Yasmin

Just Ask

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I think that deep down each and everyone one of us knows the value of helping others and most of us can probably think of at least one instance in which we have helped someone else.

However, I believe the thing that most of us humans struggle with is actually asking for help when we need it ourselves. Many of us are afraid to ask others for help because we fear being rejected or we just immediately assume that the other person will say no.

If you are anything like me, you may feel that you are being a burden to other people if you ask them for help. Without a doubt, there is definitely a limit to how much someone can help us because helping others requires time and effort.

However, most of us only focus on the burden that we are putting on others and we don’t focus on how rewarding helping us may be for the other person.

In fact, a great deal of psychological research shows that helping others increases self-esteem, sense of belonging and overall well-being.

Of course, there is a wrong way and a right way to ask for help. I know that it is really tempting to ask for help through text or email. However, this is not such a great idea because its easier for you to ask but its also easier for them to say no.

Also, whatever you do, don’t send a mass email asking for help because you’re much less likely to get a response. Most of the people included in the mass email may not even reply because they will just assume that someone else will help you.

When you are about to ask someone for help try to follow these tips:

  • Ask in person or over the phone: The live interaction is key and research shows that you are 34 percent more likely to get a yes if you ask in person or over the phone.
  • Be specific and direct: Most people are not mind readers so don’t be vague and don’t assume that they already know what you need. Be completely honest and tell the person exactly what you need, when you need it, etc. so that person cam make a decision to help or not.
  • Be positive and understanding: I know this is obvious but make sure to ask for help in a kind and friendly manner. And if they do happen to say no don’t take it personally.

I know that at first it is very difficult to ask for help but research has shown that succesful people have strengthened their “asking muscle”. These people have gotten past the initial difficulty of asking for help because occassionally everyone needs help to succeed.

With Love,

Yasmin

My Experience with A Pet Cockatiel

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I know that I haven’t mentioned this before but I have a pet bird, a cockatiel, and her name is Laily! This week marks one year since we brought her into our home. This past year, Laily has brought us so much joy and happiness so I wanted to create this post to share some of my personal tips and experiences of living with a pet cockatiel.

One of Laily’s first pictures!

Please remember that I am not an expert on cockatiels, these are just some of the things that I have learned over the course of this past year. If you are thinking of buying a cockatiel please do your own research first to determine if a cockatiel is a good pet for you.

Why a Cockatiel:

My fascination with cockatiels began about a year and a half ago at a family gathering. We had all gathered at my grandmother’s house and my younger cousin brought over her two pet cockatiels and I got to meet them for the first time! I was really amazed at how cute and friendly the cockatiels were!

My cousins’ female cockatiel!

After going home, I did some research of my own by watching a lot of YouTube videos and reading a few articles and I decided that I really wanted a pet cockatiel as well. Basically, a short while later, my family and I went to our local breeder and that’s how we brought Laily home!

Basic Info:

  • The scientific name for cockatiels is Nymphicus Hollandicus.
  • Cockatiels are originally from the warm semi-arid regions of Australia.
  • On average, the lifespan of the cockatiel is anywhere from 10 to 25 years.
  • Cockatiels are very curious and smart animals. They have the intellect of a two year old child.
  • Cockatiels are the second most common pet birds in the United States, right after the budgie/parakeets
Laily being curious/mischievous!

Pros and Cons:

Without a doubt, cockatiels can be amazing pets. They are adorable and many of them are very sociable as well.

However, in my experience, two of the major cons of having a cockatiel are their messiness and their tendency to make a lot of noise.

Cockatiels are very clean animals, in fact if you sniff them, they smell quite nice. However, they love to make a mess, especially when they are eating.

Everyday, when I clean Laily’s cage, my father sweeps the floor near her cage because she always spills seeds everywhere. This can definitely be an annoyance but I believe that some companies are starting to make spill-proof or mess-proof cages with a special enclosed area for feeding.

If you are sensitive to loud noise (especially loud squawking noises) I definitely would not recommend a cockatiel (or most other pet birds). In general, cockatiels can make a lot of noise in the mornings, then once again in the late afternoons/early evenings.

They will also make a lot of noise if they’re bored or if they are in a very bright and sunny environment. The excess light can overstimulate them.

Also, if you leave the room, they will make a lot of noise for you to come back. (I personally find this very endearing but others may find this to be an annoyance)

Male vs. Female:

In most cases, there not many physical differences between males and females. From what I have read males can be a bit noisier than females. However, males are able to whistle and sing while females are generally not able to do so.

My Cockatiel Care Tips:

Every morning I thoroughly clean her cage. I take out the removable bottom tray of the cage and wash and clean it. I then use a damp paper towel and soap to clean any remaining droppings and food particles. I also clean her food and water bowls and replace them with clean food and water.

As you can imagine, diet is essential to a healthy cockatiel.  Cockatiels love seeds but they should have a well balanced diet. Most experts recommend giving your cockatiel pellets. Also, try to give your cockatiel veggies and a little bit of fruit as well. Admittedly, this is something that I have to work on with Laily because I give her a fortified seed diet and I keep trying to introduce her to vegetables but she is a very picky eater!

When it comes to bathing her, I usually just mist her with a spray bottle filled with water. However, now that the weather is very hot I usually hold her under the sink and gently wet her. Most experts recommend only using water to clean cockatiels because their feathers contain a natural dusty powder which helps keep them nice and clean.

In fact, it is very common for cockatiels to preen themselves on a daily basis. When they are preening themselves it looks like they are itching themselves but in reality they are just preening/cleaning themselves.

To Trim or Not to Trim:

Many bird owners have very strong opinons on whether a pet bird should be flighted or should have trimmed feathers.

Obviously, in their natural settings, birds fly freely and this is a great form of excercise. However, in my opinion if you have a pet bird it is best to trim their feathers.

Primarily, this is for their own safety. However this also gives peace of mind to the bird owner (or bird parent) because if a bird accidently flies away it is very difficult to find the bird and the birds’ life may be in danger.

Bonus Tips:

  • When you first bring your cockatiel home, it is very tempting to want to immediately interact with it. However, it is best to give it a day or two to allow it to get used to its new surroudings.
  • Approach the cockatiel very gently: Start by just sitting next to the cage and softly talking with your new bird. As the bird becomes more comfortable you can put your hands inside the cage and gradually work your way up to having the bird perch on your finger. There are many YouTube videos and online articles that teach you how to tame your cockatiel. The best tip that I can give you is to be very gentle and make sure to have some spray millet with you as a treat for the bird.
  • I definitely only reccommend getting one cockatiel rather than two. Its much easier to form a bond with a single cockatiel. However, you must be able to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour of quality time with the cockatiel each day. If you don’t have that much time then I would reccommend getting two so they keep each other company.
  • Buy two or three toys for your cockatiel and alternate them every few weeks so your bird doesn’t get bored. Toys are essential to keep your cockatiel happy and calm and quiet.
  • During the first few weeks try to spend a lot of time with your new cockatiel so you too can form a strong bond. Eventually after the bond has formed it might be a good idea to set up specific time(s) of the day to play with your bird so the cockatiel knows what to expect and this structure can also keep them calm and quiet.
  • Make sure that the cage is not too small. It should be large enough for the bird to move around freely without hitting anything.
  • At nighttime cover the cage with a towel or thin blanket to prevent street lights or the sunrise from waking them up. They need between 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.
  • If you want your bird to be friendly with other people start having different family members or friends spend time with the bird. The sooner you start the more likely you are to have a friendly and well-socialized bird.
  • Laily, my pet cockatiel, has provided my family and I with an immense amount of joy and happiness. However, a cockatiel may not be the right pet for everyone. Honestly, each cockatiel has its own personality. Some may be more friendly and sociable than others. However, with a little bit of effort and a lot of patience, it is very possible to form a bond with a cockatiel!
Laily and I!

With Love,

Yasmin

Here are Three Things That Won’t Make You Happier

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I truly believe that deep down each and every one of us wants to be happy and I believe that ultimately we make many of the decisions in our lives with the hope that someday it will bring us some form of happiness.

Most of us have certain beliefs about what will make us happy. Some of the things that we believe will make us happy may indeed increase our happiness however, other things may not.

If you are in the search for happiness here are some of the things that research has shown that will not help you reach long term happiness.

Money

I know that this sounds cliche but money really cannot buy happiness. One research study showed that high income earners are not significantly happier than middle class income earners.

Obviously, we all need money to pay for shelter and our basic needs and then having some extra money can help us live a comfortable life. However, I think that one of the problems with money is that most people who start making lots of money never reach a point when they are satisfied with the amount of money they have. This is potentially dangerous because for some people the pursuit of money and riches becomes the purpose of their life.

I think most of us know that money by itself will not make us happy. But we feel that having lots of money helps us buy or gain the things that we want and this will make us happy. The reality is that material possessions only bring short term happiness. When we first buy something we may be excited and happy but after a while we get used to the item or something even better comes out and we often take the version of the item that we have previously bought for granted.

Material possessions may not bring lasting happiness but there is one way in which money can buy happiness. A research study has shown that after people have their basic needs met if they have extra money to spend on time saving services such as a housekeeper they will be happier. The reason is that they will have more freedom to spend their time as they wish.

Too Many Choices

This may be slightly shocking to some people but research has shown that when most people are given too many options or choices to choose from they often become exhausted and unhappy. Social Psychologists often refer to this phenomenon as tyranny of freedom or choice overload.

I know personally when I am shopping online I feel overwhelmed by all the choices that I see that I have to choose from. Even when I want to sit back, relax and watch a TV show I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of shows that are available. I don’t even have traditional cable so my TV viewing options are fairly limited but still there is just too much choice on Netflix!

On a more serious note though, we humans have a cognitive reserve that is limited and we can only make so many decisions until we run out of energy and we ideally stop for the day or we continue and risk making impaired decisions. The problem with choice overload is that we can easily deplete our cognitive reserve by making trivial decisions before we make the tougher decisions.

I think that this quote from former president Obama helps to explain this idea:“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits… I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Personally, what I like to do is every night before bed I choose my outfit for the next day and I basically get everything ready so that in the morning I don’t have to make any trivial decisions. Getting everything ready the night before really helps ease my morning routine and occasionally if I do wake up a little later I am less stressed than I would otherwise be.

Having More Friends or Followers on Social Media

I know this one is probably a pretty obvious one but having more friends or followers on social media will most likely not lead to you becoming any happier.

One particular study divided frequent Facebook users into two groups. One group continued to use Facebook as frequently as they usually did and another group was asked to take a one week break from a Facebook. The results showed that the group that took a one week break were happier and less stressed.

I think that the problem with social media is that we the social media users often tend to compare our lives with the lives of others and we often come to the conclusion that our lives are not as great as the lives of these other people. We become unappreciative of all that we do have. We often forget that most people only post the highlights or the best moments of their lives on social media.

I am a social media user myself and I would not go so far as to say that we should completely stop using social media. I believe that social media has many benefits as well. I have family that live all across the world and social media has helped us connect in a way that may not have been possible without it.

Also, social media has played a role in many positive movements across the world as well and I often see images and videos of people that are going through such difficult times and while these images are extremely hard to see I become aware of their struggles and I become immensely grateful for everything that I do have.

My humble piece of advice would be to first of all try to establish or strengthen relationships that you have in real life outside of social media because these are the people that are more likely going to come to your aid during difficult times.

Also, go through your social media accounts and simply unfollow accounts or people that make you feel bad about yourself or they just don’t add value to your life.

Always remember that social media is just a means of connecting and interacting with others but ideally it should not be the only way that we interact with each other.

A Final Note on Happiness

Life definitely consists of many ups and downs and it’s impossible to always feel content or happy. It turns out that accepting the fact that we are not always going to be happy is actually good for our overall well-being.

Research has shown that the pursuit of happiness does not lead to more joy. An Australian research study asked participants to what extent is being happy important to them. Then they were asked to keep a journal of all the stressful events that occur in their lives and and write how it made them feel.

The results showed that those who highly valued happiness felt more lonely during these stressful times.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to feel happy and joyous however, if the desire for these positive feelings and emotions becomes obsessive then it will lead to more emotional pain rather than joy and happiness.

With Love,

Yasmin

The Power of Meaning 

Hey Everyone! 

Hope you’re all doing well!

I recently watched a very inspirational TED Talk titled: There’s is More to Life than Being Happy by Emily Esfahani Smith

Basically, the major point of her TED Talk is that those who are truly at peace with their lives are not the ones who chase after happiness rather they are the ones who find meaning in their lives.  She describes how the famous Psychologist Martin Seligman describes meaning as coming from, belonging to and serving something beyond ourselves, and from developing the best within ourselves. 

In her talk Esfahani Smith describes statistics about how, for many people in the U.S, the quality of life has improved by almost every standard, yet the suicide rate has reached an all time high. She attributes this to a lack of meaning and she also cites statistics that mention that those who do have meaning in their lives are more resilient, do better in school and in work and they even live longer. 

Esfahani Smith spent five years doing research about how we can find meaning in our lives and she came up with the following four pillars of meaning: (The following is a very brief description of the pillars)

Belonging: Being in relationships and having relationships in which you are valued intrinsically for who you are and you value others for who they are. True belonging comes from relationships that are based on love and they are based on your choice, you choose to cultivate belonging with others.

Purpose: Many people find their purpose through their work however, finding your  purpose is not exactly the same as finding a job that makes you happy. Purpose is less about what you want and more about what you give to others. The key to purpose is using your strength to help others. 

Transcendence: She describes transcendent states as being those rare moments in which we are lifted above the normal hustle and bustle of daily life. It is when our sense of self fades away and we feel connected to a higher reality.  In transcendent experiences you lose all sense of time and place and these experiences can change you to become a better person. For each person transcendence can come from a different source. Some people may experience it through their house of worship others can experience it through other means such as art, athletics, writing, etc. (To me personally transcendence sounds a lot like what psychologists refer to as flow). 

Story Telling: She describes this as the story that you tell yourself about yourself. We are authors of our own stories and we can change the way we tell them. She argues that our lives are not just a series of events but we can edit and interpret our stories even when we are constrained by the facts. The point of story telling is to help us reevaluate our lives and see ourselves and our lives from a more positive perspective. She gives the example of an injured football player who was left paralyzed as a result of his injury. In the aftermath of the injury, he described his life as being good before the injury and being pretty bad after the injury. After some time had passed he re-evaluated his story to describe his life before the injury as being a life in which he lack purpose and meaning and he was only concerned with himself. However, after the injury he has a greater appreciation for life and he has found his purpose in life which is to help others. 

This TED Talk was definitely an eye opener for me. Being a student of positive psychology I have read a lot of books and articles on the importance of attaining happiness and how we can be happier in fact I wrote a post a while ago about a book on happiness. I do still recommend that book and I will definitely continue to read positive psychology books and articles on happiness because I feel that there is a lot that we can learn and apply in our lives. Also, because positive psychology as a field is determined to study and understand happiness and wellbeing from a scientific perspective. 

However, it’s also really nice to know that there is something more long lasting that can help us deal with any stage or event in our lives. It is impossible for most of us to be happy all the time but having a sense of meaning, in my opinion, is much more powerful because it gives us something to rely on in moments of joy and sorrow. 

Click here to watch this TED Talk.
With love,

Yasmin

The One Book That Will Change Your Life

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re doing well!

Throughout my life as a student I have had to read many books and novels. However, the book that has had the greatest positive impact in my everyday life is The How of Happiness by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky. This was an assigned reading for one of my psychology courses and it was definitely a worthwhile read that I would highly recommend to everyone!

HappyIMG_2953

The How of Happiness is a self-help book that teaches you how to work towards becoming a happier person. However, what separates this book from the hundreds of other similar books is that this particular book is based on real scientific research that has been conducted on this topic.

Basically, this self-help book is very accurate and reliable because at its core it is based on scientific research. The author herself is a University Lecturer and researcher at the University of California Riverside.

The key idea of this book is that happiness is something that can be attained by actively working towards achieving it. The author points out her research that shows 50 percent of our happiness is based on our genetics, 10 percent of our happiness is based on our life situations (such as whether we are rich or poor; healthy or unhealthy etc.) and most importantly 40 percent of our happiness is based on our own thoughts and behaviors (which we can change).

The purpose of this book is to help you take advantage of this 40 percent that is within our control. The author presents and describes 12 different happiness enhancing strategies. however, not every strategy will work for every individual. This is why the author provides the reader with a (very simple) diagnostic self-test to determine which two or three strategies will work best for him or her.

After determining which strategies will work best for you, you can go to the chapters on those strategies in order to start implementing them in your life. Or you can read about all 12 strategies and see if you would benefit from them. The strategies include:

  1. Expressing Gratitude
  2. Cultivating Optimism
  3. Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison
  4. Practicing Acts of Kindness
  5. Nurturing Social Relationships
  6. Developing Strategies for Coping
  7. Learning to Forgive
  8. Increasing Flow
  9. Savoring Life’s Joys
  10. Committing to your Goals
  11. Practicing Religion and Spirituality
  12. Taking Care of Your Body

Some of these strategies may sound too easy or too cheesy however, in the last part of the book the author explains how and why these strategies work. This book also contains a special section with tips for those that may be feeling depressed.

Overall, this book is written in a manner that is very easy to read and understand. I have learned so much from this book and from the bottom of my heart I hope that each person that reads this post will also read this great book and hopefully go on their own personal journey to living a happier and more fulfilling life.

With Love,

Yasmin