How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person

I came across this article and found it very inspiring.  I hope you do as well.  If you didn’t know, I have a FB group, Lead with deed, where people can share random acts of kindness and inspirational articles.  I’d love to hear your stories!

30 Days of Kindness:

How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person

I don’t know his name, but his messy, shoulder-length hair hides a pair of hauntingly blue eyes. It’s a warm September day in New York, but he’s sitting under a mountain of ragged bits of clothing, towels and blankets. In one hand, he loosely holds a piece of string attached to the neck of a small, mangy-looking dog lying next to him. In the other hand, he clutches a nearly empty bottle of cheap vodka. His bright eyes briefly glance at me without recognition or focus. I don’t know what makes me pause.

My initial thought is to give him money, though I just avoided eye contact with the last 10 people, sputtering that I didn’t have any. And my mom’s words come to mind: “He’ll only spend it on drugs or alcohol.” So I turn to the closest Nathan’s stand and buy him a hot dog, chips and soda.

When I approach him, I feel awkward, my donation insignificant. As if I’m offering a glass of water to a man trapped in a burning building. Is he more of a ketchup or mustard guy? The absurd thought turns my face hot. What comfort will a nutritionally deficient meal with a side of dehydration be to a man who sleeps on cement and spends a life generally invisible to the world?

But when he sees my outstretched hands, he smiles, dropping the bottle and leash to accept the meal with shaky fingers. We don’t exchange any words, but his smile lingers with me.

Can random acts of kindness actually increase and sustain happiness?

It’s only the sixth day of my month-long challenge to find the joy in making someone’s day every day, and up until now, I had felt like a failure. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but rather questioning whether seemingly small gestures were actually accomplishing my goal. Can I really find joy by giving to those around me? Can random acts of kindness actually increase and sustain happiness?

How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person

Turns out they can, but there are exceptions. To find lasting happiness through generosity requires a suppression of our ego, an analysis of our motives and a reflection on how these acts alter our perception of the world.

How Generosity Benefits Us

As children, our parents tell us to make up for misbehaving by doing something nice for someone. As adults, we help friends move into a new house; we bring hot meals to new mothers; we might even donate time or money to local charities a few times a year. After all, it’s naturally uncomfortable to see a friend (or stranger) suffering or in need. Call it karma or mojo, but these acts are generally reciprocated. We receive tax breaks, returned meals and favors, thank-you notes. Tit for tat.

But what about pure, altruistic generosity, without the expectation of receiving something in return? Some researchers argue this type of generosity doesn’t exist. But I set out to see whether I could learn to give without the promise of getting. I made lists of various kind acts and placed reminders on my bathroom mirror, my work computer, my car dashboard: Make someone’s day today!

My first act of kindness was buying coffee for the woman behind me in the drive-thru lane at Starbucks. In fact, my first few acts were buying something for someone—lunch for an old friend, a copy of my favorite book to a stranger—but they didn’t make me feel much of anything. The recipients were grateful, but was I really making their day, and was that really boosting my happiness?

How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person

At the end of each day, I reflected how being kind made me feel. I dug for tangible proof of my growth. Some days felt more significant: buying cough syrup for the two coughing boys in pajamas at the pharmacy, for example. Their father, who had dark circles under his eyes, rubbed the bridge of his nose as his credit card was declined a second time. I couldn’t tell whether he was more embarrassed or grateful, but I like to think he slept a little easier that night, and I left the pharmacy feeling pretty good.

How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person

Countless studies tout the physical, mental and social benefits of receiving generosity. But until the 1980s, the effects on the giver were relatively unknown. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a psychology professor at UC Riverside and a leading happiness researcher, conducted a study in 2004 to determine whether committing five random acts of kindness would increase positive emotions. The short-term study revealed promising results with heightened levels of positive emotions, particularly in the participants who carried out all five acts of kindness on the same day. Spreading the acts over a week, Lyubomirsky theorized, led to a repetitive and often unoriginal pattern that either didn’t change the level of positive emotions or, in some cases, even lowered it.

Admittedly I experienced some form of generosity fatigue around the second week of my challenge. It’s easy to float through the day wrapped up in our own heads, focusing only on what directly impacts us. Consciously searching for new and different ways to improve someone else’s day was more difficult than I had anticipated. We just don’t face that challenge often in society. But then when I did the nice deed, I nearly always felt a boost of happiness afterward. A 2009 study by social psychologist Jorge A. Barraza, Ph.D., and neuroscientist Paul J. Zak, Ph.D., attributes this to a release of oxytocin, the feel-good chemical in the brain.

According to the study, when people feel empathetic, they release 47 percent more oxytocin into their hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for emotion and memory. The participants felt the urge to act generously—particularly toward strangers. As Matthieu Ricard, Ph.D., a Buddhist monk and best-selling author, writes in Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill: “When we are happy, the feeling of self-importance is diminished and we are more open to others.” Studies show people who have experienced a positive event in the past hour are more likely to help strangers in need. This explains why we help people, even at a cost to ourselves.

In the late ’80s, the term “helper’s high” was used to describe the euphoria feeling associated with volunteering. Beyond happiness, generous people also experienced enhanced creativity, flexibility, resilience and being open to new information. They’re more collaborative at work; they’re able to solve complex problems more easily and they form solid, healthy relationships with others.

Generosity allows us to forget our own self-importance.

As Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., happiness researcher and founder of The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, writes, “It may be people who live generous lives soon become aware that in the giving of self lies the unsought discovery of self as the old selfish pursuit of happiness is subjectively revealed as futile and short-sighted.” Generosity allows us to forget our own self-importance, even temporarily, and look outward to uplift those around us who, in turn, often uplift those around them.

Shawn Achor, a Harvard-trained researcher and The Happiness Guy at SUCCESS, calls this the ripple effect. Our behavior, he discovered, is literally contagious. “Our habits, attitudes and actions spread through a complicated web of connections to infect those around us,” he writes. That’s why we sync up with our best friends, often finishing each other’s sentences and reading each other’s thoughts. It’s also why one negative attitude can spread like a disease across an office and infect everyone’s mood.

So are happier people more generous, or does generosity make us happier? Rather than thinking of it as a cause-and-effect relationship, consider happiness and generosity as intertwining entities. “Generating and expressing kindness quickly dispels suffering and replaces it with lasting fulfillment,” writes Ricard, the Buddhist monk. “In turn the gradual actualization of genuine happiness allows kindness to develop as the natural reflection of inner joy.” Helping behavior increases positive emotions, which increases our sense of purpose, regulates stress, and improves short- and long-term health. All of that contributes to a heightened level of happiness, causing us to feel more generous, creating a circle of happiness and generosity.

Why We Aren’t Generous All the Time

I failed twice during my month-long challenge. What began as a positive and energizing morning was quickly derailed—a negative social media post, a complaining text, an overwhelmed co-worker. I refocused my thoughts and tried to make this my kind act for the day. What if I can turn this person’s day around? What if I can help him see the positive side of his situation? I listened, nodded with concern, hyper-aware of my facial expressions, eager to exude empathy and understanding. I’m not sure what I exuded, but both of us left feeling worse than before.

What happened? According to Paul Bloom, professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University and author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, I had confused empathy with compassion, resulting in empathetic distress and burnout. Empathy requires feeling what others feel, “to experience, as much as you can, the terrible sorrow and pain,” whereas compassion involves concern and a desire to help without the need to mirror someone else’s anguish.

It turns out, you can be too nice. Psychologists Vicki Helgeson and Heidi Fritz created a questionnaire revealing that women are more likely to put others’ needs before their own, often resulting in asymmetrical relationships as well as an increased risk of depression and anxiety. When we experience empathetic burnout, we often shy away from generosity altogether. Feeling taken advantage of, we retreat inward.

Researchers have also theorized that every kind act is ultimately done to benefit ourselves in some way, even subconsciously. This concept, coined “universal egoism,” offers explanations that are easier to accept than true altruism: a desire to help others void of selfish motives. For example, there are multiple situations that can be initially perceived as true altruism but at its core, the kind act is governed by selfish motives. Ben Dean, Ph.D., psychologist and founder of MentorCoach in Maryland, offers three such examples:

  • It’s a natural response to feel uncomfortable when we see someone suffering. But rather than help in order to ease their suffering, we help them to ease our own discomfort.
  • In an attempt to protect our fragile egos and reputations, we don’t want to be viewed as insensitive, heartless, mean, etc. So we help others even when we might not feel an urge to improve their well-being.
  • We perceive there to be some form of personal benefit from the act, either short- or long-term.

The question remains: Is there a truly selfless act of kindness?

The question remains: Is there a truly selfless act of kindness? And does it even matter where our motivations lie? The homeless man in New York still ate a hot meal, and the two little boys at the pharmacy didn’t stay up all night coughing. Isn’t that what matters?

How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person

We aren’t consistently generous for a multitude of reasons, but in the traditional corporate setting, the prevailing enemy of generosity is the fear of appearing naïve. (And the possibility of going broke.) After all, isn’t the nice guy the one who finishes last? So we become “Givers” as Adam Grant Ph.D., details in his best-seller Give and Take. In the modern workplace, we are no longer solely evaluated on our work performance, but rather on how we interact as a cohesive unit and how we contribute to the organization as a whole. In fact, Grant’s research reveals this new business landscape paves the way for Givers to succeed and Takers to be left behind. By helping others, we help ourselves.

The important thing to remember is that Givers—especially those predisposed to putting others’ needs before their own—need to know their boundaries. Grant says it begins with distinguishing generosity from its three other attributes: timidity, availability and empathy.

At the risk of sounding cliché, my month of generosity did make me happier. Something about waking up and consciously planning to act selflessly lightened my step and made the morning drag easier to bear. Something about a stranger flashing a smile (albeit a confused one) as I handed them a dog-eared copy of my favorite memoir gave me an energy boost that a triple-shot latte never could.

For a precious hour or so every day, the fear, anxiety, stress and doubt of daily life didn’t plague my thoughts. I briefly forgot about myself, and it was intoxicating. Friends responded to my seemingly arbitrary good mood with confused laughs. When did being happy without reason become a cause for concern? I wondered.

Maybe my heart was in the right place when I gave the blue-eyed man a hot meal. But maybe my ego was directing my actions that night in the pharmacy checkout lane. And maybe I avoided generosity toward my close friends and co-workers because it was more difficult. Buying coffee for a stranger is easy, detached and allows for a clean exit. Gently pushing a friend to divulge her source of anxiety after she says “I’m fine” is not. After all, altruism and honest self-reflection take time and practice.

Thirty days of generosity didn’t make me a different person, but I do feel different. I don’t actively look for ways to be generous, but I notice the opportunities anyway. Like the sticky note residue on my bathroom mirror, I can see gentle impressions of my growth where I least expect it: during rush hour, when I give the benefit of the doubt to the woman cutting into my lane; after a long day of work, when I make time for the struggling friend who needs to talk; and, most important, in the moments when I forget myself and realize the joy to be found in caring for the people around me.

 

Source:

How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person

 

 

 

5 MISTAKES PEOPLE WITH THICK HAIR ALWAYS MAKE

Having thick hair is a big responsibility. The idea of trying new styling techniques can be a bit scary because thick hair generally has a mind of its own. To help relieve you of some of that anxiety, we’re sharing some of the most common mistakes people make with thick hair, as well as some best practices, ahead.

Thick Hair Mistake #1: Thinning it Out Too Much

One of the most popular ways people deal with thick hair is by thinning it out. While removing some bulk from your hair may seem like the best way to make it more manageable, in most cases you may actually be making matters worse. Over-thinning thick hair with shears or a razor can cause unwanted volume from the pumped-up, shorter layers left behind during the thinning process. It can also fray the ends of your hair leaving it appearing stringy and unhealthy. Layering the hair properly is the best way to ditch any extra bulk you may have without compromising the look or integrity of the hair.

Thick Hair Mistake #2 Getting a Super Short Haircut

Another route many take to achieve more manageable hair is opting for a super-short haircut. Once again, this may actually create more work for you in the long run. Short haircuts, in general, require more commitment in the styling and hair-care department, so if you’re looking for an easy, breezy style, this may not be the best option. When thick hair is cut too short, styling techniques like sectioning and updos are difficult to do, if not impossible. If you are looking for a shorter style that will work well with thicker hair, try a triangular long bob that is longer in the front. This will make pulling your hair back easier and will also distribute your hair in such a way that it appears sleeker and thinner.

Thick Hair Mistake #3: Getting It Chemically Straightened 

Many clients opt for a chemical straightening treatment in the hopes that it will make their thick hairstyle easier. What most often happens is the natural texture of the hair is ruined and it becomes over-processed and unmanageable. If you’re looking to create an easier, sleeker look try getting a keratin treatment. Keratin treatments fill in the small divots in your hair that create texture to smooth it out and compress the cuticle. These treatments are also not permanent as they wash out over time and eventually restore your hair’s natural texture.

Thick Hair Mistake #4: Not Using the Right Shampoo and Conditioner

Another common mistake made with thick hair is using the wrong products. Many mistake thick hair for curly or textured hair and therefore stock up on formulas that are too heavy and weigh it down even more. Thick hair tends to retain oil more due to the density of the hair strands. Over time, this can create a lot of buildups, leaving your locks looking lackluster and dull. With thick hair, it’s important to properly cleanse it to avoid this buildup effect. Try a gentle clarifying shampoo and light conditioners like those from Kérastase Cristalliste, L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo or Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo. These formulas work together to wash out any oil and residue leftover from styling products and keep your hair looking fresh and healthy.

Thick Hair Mistake #5: Avoiding Layers

If you are part of the thick-hair family, you’ve probably experienced the fear of a new haircut. Finding the right cut for your thick strands can be a stressful ordeal and it might take a few tries before you find the perfect cut. The anxiety and confusion often cause women to choose the ease of a single-length, blunt haircut. This may work for some but for others, this isn’t necessarily the way to go. Don’t be afraid to layer your hair! Creating a long layering pattern will not only shed some weight from your hair, but it also gives you more styling versatility and a beautiful shape. Just make sure to avoid short layers.

Source:

https://www.makeup.com/mistakes-with-thick-hair

HOW TO DIY THE PERFECT SALON BLOWOUT AT HOME

Lattes, spa pedicures and perfect blowouts: they all top the list of those elusive things we can never quite master as well as the pros. After wrestling with our blowdryer — tired arms and tangled hair — for far too long, we decided we need to knock one of those wonders off the list and figure out how to blow dry our hair like the hairstylists do. To guide us on our journey, we caught up with hair pro Natasha Sunshine-Antonioni to get her expert advice on how to DIY the perfect blowout.

diy salon blowout

STEP 1: Prime and Prep Your Hair 

The perfect blowout starts by spraying your hair before styling. “A primer sets your hair up to receive the benefits from your styling product,” says Sunshine-Antonioni. “If you think of a painter and their canvas, they always prime their canvas before applying the paint to get the best results. Spray a product like the Pureology Colour Fanatic Multi-benefit Leave-in Treatment from the mid-shaft to the ends of the hair. Then, choose a product that’s appropriate for the look you’re going for.” If you’re going for a sleek style, you want to use something that’s a bit creamier or shinier like the Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum. For a more voluminous style, use a volume spray like the Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam at your roots.

 

STEP 2: Pre-Dry Your Hair

“I am a believer in using the fastest way to get the best results, so start by pre-drying the hair with your blow dryer,” suggests Sunshine-Antonioni. “Use your hand to stretch your hair and pull on it while you’re blowing with the tip of your blow dryer pointed down. If you have curly hair, you want to use a lot of tension and really stretch your hair, and if you have finer hair, you just move the blow dryer back and forth and do it hands-free. Do that until the hair is about eighty to ninety percent dry before you pick up a brush.”

 STEP 3: Section Your Hair

“Next, make your part where you want it and section from ear to ear — one section on the left, one on the right, and then the remaining back of the head you want to put into four different sections,” she says.

 STEP 4: Choose the Right Brush 

Now it’s time to get down to business with the right tools. Sunshine-Antonioni likes to use a round bristle brush and says, “the bigger the brush, the straighter the hair. The smaller the brush, the tighter the curls, so choose according to the result you’re going for.”

 STEP 5: Blow Dry Your Hair Like a Pro 

When it comes time to dry with your brush, Sunshine-Antonioni recommends starting in the front of your hair. “If you have fine hair and you start in the back, by the time you get to the front it’s pretty much dry, and you’ve set your hair up to be flat,” she explains. It’s also important to focus more on the ends of your hair. “A lot of times people will spend time and energy by going from the root to the tips of the hair, but for a beautiful, polished blowdry you really just need to focus on the ends of the hair.” Place your brush from the mid-shaft to the end and then once it’s in there, that tension will smooth out the root at the same time.

If you want a smoother blow-dry with polished ends, roll your hair in toward the face, wrapping your hair around your brush. “A lot of times I see women drying their hair and they’re using a round brush, but the hair is not wrapping around the brush so the ends look frizzy,” Sunshine-Antonioni says.

“When you’re drying the back of the hair, it seems like everybody’s always killing themselves with their elbows up in the air, sweating, but if you actually just take your hair from the back and pull it around to the front, and you blow dry it in front of the face, it will expend a lot less energy and you’ll get a better polish to the ends. You won’t believe how much easier it is.”

 STEP 6: Finish Your DIY Blowout 

Once your salon-worthy blowout is done, Sunshine-Antonioni recommends setting your style with a light mist of flexible hairspray like the Matrix Total Results High Amplify Flexible Hold Hairspray.

 STEP 7: Now Make Your Blowout Last

So you’ve mastered the perfect blowout but a couple of days later it’s suddenly greasy and less voluminous. Cue dry shampoo. We recommend trying the Pureology Style + Protect Refresh & Go Dry Shampoo. “Make a horseshoe shape parting on the top of your head from temple to temple and spray it right at the root, about six inches away from the hair. Next, brush it through your hair,” Sunshine-Antonioni advises. You can also follow up with a conditioner like the Batiste Dry Conditioner. “If your ends look a little dry, but you don’t want to layer on a serum because it’s too heavy, the dry conditioner is wonderful because it leaves you with light freshness. Start from the mid-shaft to the ends and spray vigorously, then brush through.” Wondering if you can use both products at once? Yes, she says, as long you brush the products thoroughly between applications and concentrate the conditioner on your ends and shampoo at the roots.

Source:

https://www.makeup.com/diy-salon-blowout

3-D Printed Nails! it’s a thing ladies and I love it.

This is such a cool idea!  Women can do amazing things when using their skill sets and creativity.

Grace Chiang, 25, cofounded Mani.me with while getting an MBA at Stanford. She’s still working toward her degree.

Grace Chiang, 25, cofounded Mani.me with while getting an MBA at Stanford. She’s still working toward her degree.

Courtesy of Mani.me

Grace Chiang, 25, had long been obsessed with manicures. But during a stint at McKinsey, she never had time to get her nails done the way she wanted. So while working towards her MBA at Stanford, she launched a company, Mani.me, with two friends from school, Jooyeon Song and David Miro Llopis, to sell women 3-D printed manicures by subscription. It’s an out-of-the-box idea for 3-D printing, but technologically there’s not a lot of difference between 3-D printing a keychain and doing the same for a set of highly designed nails.

The company launched in April, and has minimal sales to date, but was recently accepted into the new Stanley+Techstars accelerator for additive manufacturing, the lone consumer company in the current class of 10. In a conversation that has been edited and condensed, Chiang spoke about why the time has come for 3-D printed manicures:

Mani.me’s Grace Chiang (center) with cofounders Jooyeon Song and David Miro Llopis

Mani.me’s Grace Chiang (center) with cofounders Jooyeon Song and David Miro Llopis

Courtesy of Mani.me

It’s a female industry that’s been around for literally thousands of years. It’s super-painful, it takes a ton of time and it’s not very healthy for your nails. We thought, why not marry that with something quite male-oriented, which is 3-D printing and manufacturing. What we offer are custom-fit, ready-to-wear nails. You go to the website for an app. We measure your hand with photos, and we translate that into a 3-D printing model. Then we print the base, put the design on top of it and mail it to you. It’s like a sticker. The design is whatever you saw on the app. It’s like watching an Instagram come to life.

We’re on a subscription basis, $50 a month for two sets a month. We have a premium tier, which is $70 a month for three sets, so you can have a fun set for the weekend.

I worked in a nail salon when I was younger. It was that really long summer between high school and college. I was a financial aid student in college. I lived in Taiwan and went looking for jobs, and nobody was hiring for high schoolers. It’s not part of the culture there. My grandmother had always loved having me paint her nails. She passed away, and I decided this is something I just have to do. I found a nail salon in town. They agreed to train me if I gave them manual labor, sweeping and cleaning. I did that for five months. I got trained in acrylics and gels. I went off to college and would do monthly seasonal sets for my friends at school. Now I am at Stanford, and I hold women’s lunches for women to meet and talk and also to get manicures.

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2018/07/16/stanford-mba-student-25-launches-3-d-printed-manicure-business-with-her-friends/?fbclid=IwAR37P42oGw41um-wepexQIPZFQHjwPjkc_TUaxYQF3Kydb6MTVpqXKotTEo#3cf2ba93ae60