14 Questions Everyone Should Be Able To Answer Before Getting Married

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Are you getting married, or plan to get married in the future? If yes, what are some of the questions you should ask yourself before saying “I Do?” Marriage is a life-long adventure which can be great, or not so great, so spending a great amount of time preparing yourself is a must. It could even be disastrous. You probably might have witnessed a nasty divorce before. Therefore, before you decide to tie the knot with the ONE you have been dreaming about spending the rest of your life with, ponder over the 14 questions below.

1. Are you emotionally as well as physically attracted to your partner?

Deciding to marry someone should never be solely based on their physical appearance. But because of all the beautiful people we see, and communicate with everyday, you should make sure you are physically attracted to your partner. If not, you would end up being unhappy with your spouse’s physical appearance, which could lead to other problems.

2. Are you ready to commit to spending the rest of your life with your partner?

Committing to spending the rest of your life with someone is not an easy decision. And you should make sure you are ready for this life-long commitment. Over the course of your married life, you will both grow old. You and your spouse will change in many ways. You want to be able to spend the rest of your live and grow together with this person. Being committed to each other will help you thrive as a married couple, and also become a better person.

3. When you argue or disagree with your partner what happens?

Does it always have to be your way?  Fights, and arguments are bound to happen after you get married. You have to be able to compromise, and agree on various issues. And being able to understand it does not have to be your way all the time but OUR way will go a long way in ensuring you have a great marriage.

4. Would you be faithful, and trustworthy?

This question ties in with being ready to spend the rest of your life with the person you marry. If you cannot be faithful with your partner, do not bother about getting married. The future does not look bright for your marriage.

5. Do you share the same beliefs?

Sharing the same belief system is an integral component of most successful marriages. By sharing the same beliefs you will have another way to connect, grow, and help each other. And when your kids (if you have have kids) get older, it makes it easier to teach them what your beliefs are without having much conflict.

6. Are you the person he/she has been looking for, and wants to marry?

If you do not the standards he/she has for a future spouse, its time to ponder about your decision again. Remember, marriage is not easy, therefore marry someone who has been looking for someone with your personality and character traits.You don’t want someone trying to change you, or vie versa.

7. Do you share similar long term, lifestyle, family, marriage, and life goals?

Imagine marrying someone who likes to travel 6 months out of the year, whereas you HATE to travel. Would you be able to live a happy, and enjoyable life together? What if you hate the cold, and he/she loves it? Do you even know what you want in life, for a career, family, etc? By marrying someone, you are agreeing to help them have a fulfilling life, and should be interested in things they like. You will certainly have some differences but let your differences compliment each other.

8. Do you both want to have kids?

If you want to have kids someday, and your partner does not want to have any kids, you both have to sit down and discuss whether moving forward with your marriage plans the best thing for both of you.

9. If this person was incapacitated would you want to spend the rest of my life with him/her?

This question is not one we all look forward to answering. But life is unpredictable. You could be walking with both legs today, but be without your legs tomorrow from a car accident. Can you support, and be there forever with your future spouse if something like this happens?

10. Are you ready to put this persons needs above your wants?

In marriage, you both have to give and take, especially during the first few years of your marriage. You will go through some adjustments that will require putting your spouses needs above your wants. Are you ready for that? Yes, you might have to stop buying your dream car or house, just so you can put the money towards helping your spouse finish their college education. You will have to make some sacrifices.

11. Would you be a great team member?

It takes two to tango, especially in marriage. You will not be alone anymore when it comes to making decisions for your house, family, marriage, and life. If you do not work well together, or hate working together, don’t bother getting married. There will be A LOT of things you will have to both work on together everyday; not just once a week or month, marriage is all about teamwork. And if you do not make a great team member, guess what, you will not make progress in your marriage, and your life.

12. Are you proud of your partner?

When your partner achieves an accomplishment, makes progress on a goal, or fails utterly from undertaking a goal, you should be proud of them. When he/she is around your friends and family, you should be proud to talk about them.

13. Are you ready to accept your partner’s family, and support them if need be?

You are not just marrying your partner, you are marrying his/her family too. There will be many occasions like birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc that you will have to be present, and take part in. Sometimes, you will have to contribute financially as a couple.

14. Do you want to share your finances together or have separate accounts?

Money problems is one of the well known reasons why married couples get divorced. Therefore ensure you are on the same page when it comes to your finances. What if after going through these questions, get married, and your marriage ends in a divorce? Life is unpredictable, therefore use these questions as a guide when deciding to get married.

These questions will help you make a good decision, and not rush into getting married. After getting, married, you and your spouse must continually work hard to improve yourself and live the marriage you both dreamed about before saying “I Do.” If you are not ready to commit, be selfless, learn, and work hard to make your marriage a healthy, happy, and lasting one, marriage might not be for you!

Featured photo credit: niekverlaan via pixabay.com

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7 Apps Children Love Today That Parents Need To Be Aware Of

7 Apps Children Love Today That Parents Need To Be Aware Of

“The rise of sexting, bullying, prostitution, and drug use are taking place over third party mobile apps.”  — Sedgrid Lewis

Our children can be tweens or teens, younger than that or older, and they will always be our kids. Ensuring their safety is our top priority, regardless their age. According to a recent study by the PewResearch Internet Project,  “95% of teens are online, and increasingly their phones are affording them with always-on, mobile access to the internet — in some cases, serving as their primary point of access.” Smartphones and the apps children love to download can create a dangerous combination that we need to be aware of as parents. Other recent surveys indicate that our children now average 7 hours and 38 minutes a day plugged into media – mostly on their cellphones.  I know that my daughter rarely strays from her phone, but I would never guess that she spends the equivalent of an average workday, or school day for her, connected to her phone.

How Safe Is Teen Cellphone Use?

To keep our kids safe, we need to monitor the apps children love to use. Kristin Peaks a Sr. Digital & Social Media Specialist at Cook Children’s tells us that, “I have learned so much about the dangers of Smart Phone Apps. It’s downright scary.”

7 Apps Children Love

The list below includes the 7 of the hottest apps children love to use today, and why you should monitor them. Whisper App LogoWhisper —  Whisper advertises itself as the best place to express yourself online, connect with like minded individuals, and discover the unseen world around you. Over 70% of whisper users are women under the age of 25, and the app provides freedom for young users to share raw feelings and emotions anonymously in their geographic area. Why You Should Monitor It: Teens are able to share things with complete strangers that they might never feel comfortable sharing with their friends, let alone their parents. This app has been used for cyberbullying, and by pedophiles to establish relationships with girls as young as 12 years old. Kik App LogoKik Messenger — Kik Messenger is a free alternative texting service that allows users to send videos, texts, and pictures to over 180 million other users. Why You Should Monitor It:  This app bypasses your wireless providers’ short message services (SMS) allowing your teen to “sext” without any parental controls. This has become so common that the the term sex buddy has been replaced with Kik Buddy. Additionally, there is no way of authenticating users, making it easy for pedophiles to use this messenger. SnapchatSnapchat – Snapchat provides a fast and easy way to take photos, add a caption, and send it to a friend. The photo “self destructs” 10 seconds after it is opened by the recipient. Why You Should Monitor ItSnapchat is the number one sexting app on the market. This app gives teens a false sense of security when sending sexually inappropriate photos because of the self destruct feature. The truth is, nothing sent over the internet ever disappears. There are always ways to retrieve and capture those images. There have also been numerous cases of cyberbullying with this app. Tinder App LogoTinder — Tinder claims to be a fun way to connect with new and interesting people around you. When a mutual match is made by a simple swipe of the finger, your teen can immediately share messages and photos with strangers. Why You Should Monitor It:  This app is primarily used for “hooking up.” Once your teen makes a mutual match with another user, the next step is to meet in person. Monitor this app if you do not want your teen meeting random strangers online. OmegleOmegle — The tagline for this app is, “Talk To Strangers,” and it does just that – it allows your teen to video chat with random strangers. Why You Should Monitor It: Omegle is filled with people searching for sexual chat. Since the chats are anonymous, they’re often much more explicit than those with a user who can be identified might be. Down App LogoDown — This app provides the user with a way to get “down” with friends and nearby strangers. After linking this app with their Facebook account, users can decide which ones that they want to “hook up” with. Why You Should Monitor It: This app used to be called “Bang with Friends,” and is connected to your teens Facebook account. The slogan for the app: “The anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night.” If that alone doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will! Vine AppLogoVine – Vine allows users to create short, six second, looping videos and share them with their friends and family to see. Why You Should Monitor It: While many of the videos are harmless, but inappropriate videos can pop up in your teens feed, exposing them to sexually explicit material. Predators have been using this app to search for teens by location, and connect with them through other messaging apps. If you are concerned with your teen’s online safety, you need to monitor the apps children love to use. With new apps being created every day, this is not a one-time activity but a continuous process. Children and Technology: How To Be A Cool, In-Control Parent is a great resource to learn keep your children safe online. When comes to our children it is always better to be safe than sorry, take the time to monitor the apps children love.

Featured photo credit: Carissa Rogers via flickr.com

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7 Ways to Let Your Family Know You’re Serious About Entrepreneurship

7 Ways to Let Your Family Know You're Serious About Entrepreneurship

RIIIIIIIINNNNNNGGGG!!! That’s only the 9,6697th time your mom’s called today. Rather than beat your head against the wall again, take back your precious minutes. You’re the owner. You’re the boss. Entrepreneurship isn’t a game. And whether you work from home or work from Starbucks, your time is money. And every minute you allow someone to take away from it, imagine they’re sucking a dollar from your bank account. And that is the fastest way to end up eating peanut butter and jelly with a side of Ramen noodles for dinner.

They mean well. They really do. They don’t intend to steal your money. They think they’re just calling. Besides, why wouldn’t you want to talk to them? But in the end, their good intentions won’t pay your bills. And the key to laying down the law is to do it while letting them know you are serious about your work and that you appreciate their being a part of your life. So when they step over the line and ignore the following rules, all you have to do is politely, calmly, and lovingly (with a hint of smugness, of course) remind them that the rules are in place because success doesn’t happen without them and that you’re happy to deal with them when the time is right.

Lay down your rules, take back your time, and own your business. Without getting disowned by your family. Here are the new house rules of entrepreneurship for both you and your family.

1. On or Off

Set your hours to coincide with the time they are least likely to bother you. Yes, when they’re asleep. Whether your disctractors tend to be under 4′ tall or older than 45 years of age, they have to sleep. Schedule your hours so they happen when you have the most energy. Morning person? Get up at 3:30am like I do and work like a mad person until you are forced to stop and get everyone ready for the day. Night Owl? No worries, trade your movie time in for work time. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll accomplish with no one calling you or screaming behind your head. Really.

2. Lock yourself away.

If you work from home, it’s likely you’ll run into more than one project that requires you to work outside of your scheduled “Office Hours.” Don’t panic. Set up the kids, your spouse, your bird in another room with LOADS of fun and entertaining activities. Soccer games are great to keep those sports lovers out of your hair and a deck of cards? Well, the kids will never play a hand of rummy with them, but they’ll have a blast playing 52 Pick Up. While they’re doing what they do best, you’ll hunker down in your corner and do what you do best. Note: There will be no yelling screaming or fighting during this time or the party is over and everyone sits on their beds quietly waiting for time to finish. Totally not kidding. And when your work time is done, put in their minds that everyone will pitch in to clean up the mess.

3. Automate

Set an automated message that lets you politely remind callers that you’re unable to be interrupted right now. They’ll get the message and you won’t have to be scum by hanging up on them. After one or two tries, they’ll give up and be more respectful of your time. All you have to do is wait.

4. Give back

Contribute a percentage of your earnings to the household. Nothing says you mean business like money. And when your family sees your not just pocketing your earnings for new pipes for your motorcycle, they’ll understand that you’re in this for the long haul and they can enjoy it or they can give up what you’re putting forth for them. And as your business grows, so does your financial input, making your business the last thing they’ll want you to quit.

5. Hide it

Tuck your phone in a drawer or in another room on silent. Even if you’ve turned the volume all the way down and the vibration is off, it’s still a temptation sitting by your side. You’ll still work a little; then catch yourself on Facebook ten minutes later or responding to somebody’s yummy chocolate birthday on Instagram. Protect yourself from pitfalls. Keep your phone at bay in a drawer or in another room.

6. Silence!

Turn off all notifications. This was the hardest thing for me. You’re in business, right? It’s your job to respond to situations. And you will, in time. During your peak work hours, the ones where you create the most content, have the most success reaching out to people, or just generating ideas, it’s your duty to honor and respect that time. And responding in social media or to emails isn’t doing that. Section out time to do that each day and you won’t feel you NEED to be “on” 24hrs/day.

7. Fill the shoes

Act like a BOSS. No one is going to take your business seriously if YOU don’t. You have a business to run. Run it as though every eye on you is waiting for you to fail. And you will never let that happen. Your time is now. They’ll learn to deal with it. They’ll learn to live around it. They’ll learn to love it as much as you do. Whether “they” are your spouse, your kids or your mom. Set up your rules. Set up your success.

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10 Vegetable Recipes That Make Them Taste Heavenly

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Having a vegetable today keeps the doctor away, right? As a child we were all told to eat our vegetables by our parents. And had they tasted better we would have happily eaten them. Veggies don’t have to taste like they came straight from the ground; they can taste heavenly! It’s all about what you put on them. Whether you add sugar, oil, cover everything in breadcrumbs or other delicious ingredients your vegetables can taste super yummy. It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients to make something that we despised as a kid into something that makes your taste buds shout out in celebration! Check out these amazing recipes to make eating vegetables enjoyable!

1. Simmered Sugary Sweet Baby Carrots via Rachael Ray

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Sweet, salty, and they take no time at all to make! This baby carrot recipe takes all the goodness of carrots and combines it with the salty sweetness that we all know and love. Eat them by themselves or as a side dish and they’re good either way. Definitely a hit for everyone!

2. Roasted Parmesan Broccoli via Simply Scratch

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We all love parmesan on our Italian food, so why not on our broccoli too? This recipe adds a cheesy taste to those vegetables we used to avoid at dinner. Because many of us can agree that cheese makes everything better!

3. Veggie Tian via The Comfort of Cooking

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This Italian tribute to summer vegetables will make your mouth water, and it won’t take you that long to make. All you need is a casserole dish and you’re halfway done. Your favorite sliced veggies just got a whole yummier and a whole lot cheesier!

4. Spinach Pie via Latest Food

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If it’s not good by itself, make it into a pie! This sun-inspired spinach filled pie will make any gathering a little brighter and much more delicious, and provides enough vegetable yumminess for everyone. And look how aesthetically pleasing it is!

5. Balsamic and Brown Sugar Carrots via Food.com

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For a tangy, sugary twist on carrots, this recipe fulfills both your savory and sweet cravings. Put aside your peeled carrots for something that will satisfy everyone’s preferences. This side dish is perfect for getting your vegetables in, no matter their age.

6. Sweet Potato Chips via Heather’s Dish

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Trade in your unhealthy potato chips for a new chip in town–the sweet potato chip! These are easy to make, have few ingredients, and are healthy! Put down your Lays and Ruffles for something much more satisfying to your taste buds.

7. Spinach Smoothie via Iowa Girl Eats

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If you don’t want to eat your veggies, drink them. This smoothie is sweet and filling, but is filled with veggies to keep you on your dietary track. And it’s perfect for busy days on-the-go when you still need to get your vegetables in!

8. Crunchy Cauliflower via Going Cavewoman

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Cauliflower is good by itself, but with some crunch it is amazing. Add some bread crumbs and seasoning, and discover how good cauliflower can get. Don’t forget your dipping sauce!

9. Sesame Garlic Green Beans via Wishful Chef

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If you’re a big Asian-inspired food fan, look no further. With a little sesame and garlic, you’ll quickly turn green beans into everyone’s favorite. This green bean recipe takes an Asian turn that will make your taste buds celebrate!

10. Garlic Cherry Tomatoes via The Novice Chef

Garlic-Roasted-Cherry-Tomatoes-1-smGive those tiny tomatoes a little twist with some roasting and a splash of garlic! The contrast of the sweetness of cherry tomatoes and the bitter of the garlic will be a real hit!

Getting your recommended servings of vegetables doesn’t have to be a chore. With these delicious recipes you’ll actually look forward to getting your daily dose in. You might even eat more than you should! Play around with your ingredients and see what amazing vegetable creations you can come up with.

Featured photo credit: DSC00494.jpg/DMedina via mrg.bz

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5 Unexpected Places to Boost Productivity

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The environment of a typical office or a quiet library may sometimes lessen your productivity as the unchanging views fail to stimulate your senses and keep your brain running. If you are the kind that dislikes absolute silence or minimal noise when working, these unexpected places to work may boost your productivity level!

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1. Coffee shops

Research has shown that an adequate amount of ambient noise stimulates your senses and keeps you alert. Where else better to find some chatter and clatter to boost your creative juices? Working in the coffee shop also guarantees something else: unlimited supplies of caffeine! Caffeine wakes you up by fooling adenosine receptors and speeds transmitting activities up in your nerve cells.If you do decide to try this place out, make sure that your work computer is facing the coffee shop customers so you will be less likely to procrastinate or go to inappropriate sites because people are secretly watching you 😉 If your workplace requires you to be in the office, try this website and/or phone app that provides you with sounds from coffee shops around the world. Want to work at a cafe in Paris? No problem, it’s just a button away.

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2. Cafeterias

Similar to coffee shops, company cafeteria or food courts provide consistent noise and the smell of food. The aroma of food makes you look forward to your next break and should motivate you to complete your work. The act of eating likewise keeps your brain alert and produces dopamine. But make sure only to snack and stay around 60% full so that each bite is rewarding and invigorating. Snacking every 90 minutes should keep your brain balanced enough to focus on the work at hand.

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3. Empty university classrooms  

Whether or not you’re an university student, we have all been a student at some point in our lives. And when you’re in a classroom, your brain is primed to stay focused because you have been conditioned to concentrate in class. In comparison to your bedroom, where your brain is primed to relax, sleep and have fun, the environment of the classroom triggers your memory to stay alert (unless you never listened in class) and work. If you do decide to try working in an empty university classroom, be sure to bring a studious friend. Once you see that your friend or coworker is working hard, you would feel guilty for procrastinate and be more competitive. Ever heard of environmental context-dependent memory? Research has shown that environmental context influences the way we encode information. If you study in the same place you first learned the material, your chances of recalling the information are significantly increased. Use environmental cues to your advantage so you spend less time doing more work!

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4. Outdoors

Fresh air, sunlight, cool breeze. Talk about getting your vitamin Ds the natural way. A healthy body is crucial to being productive. If you have a porch, use it to maximize your productivity! On a cool day, the crisp air is good for waking your brain up. If your work station is indoors and poorly ventilated, the build up of carbon dioxide will cause your brain to be less active, hence, less productive. Try to bring some work to a park nearby or an unsheltered town square where you are exposed to the sun. Fresh air will vitalize your brain and the warm sunlight will bring a smile to your face :)

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5. The shower 

Many people experience their “Aha!” moments when they’re in the shower. Why is that? The hot water helps with circulation and improves blood flow to your brain, giving it more oxygen and nourishment to break down your work block. If you aren’t motivated to work or feeling bored, a good shower will not only open up your pores, but also give your brain a boost of energy. Keep a waterproof white board and markers in the washroom so you will never lose those wonderful ideas again!

Featured photo credit: http://imgkid.com/productive-worker.shtml via willoch.no

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25 Life Lessons I Have Learned Over The Last 25 Years

25 Life Lessons I Have Learned Over the Last 25 Years

At age 25, you already have a few of life’s biggest milestones behind you: the day you took your first steps; your first “words” (more like adorable baby gurgles, but you catch my drift); your first day at school; graduation; your first drink with your pals on the night you officially become an adult (yeah, right!)… And then comes 25. 25 is the unsung heroes of milestones: while the “Quarter Century” moniker carries a hefty sense of foreboding, it’s also the age at which most people have a little more life experience behind them and start feeling like “adults”. (If you don’t, yet, that’s totally fine, too!)

I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the first 25 years of my life, some of it wonderful, some of it not so much; all of it, I hope, of value to you. Here are my 25 life lessons learned by age 25.

1. Start saving early.

Sorry for raining on your parade and being the boring Uncle at the frat party, but you’ll thank me for this. What people (and by people, I definitely mean myself, too) tend to conveniently forget when starting their first jobs and getting their hands on their freshly-printed paychecks, is that there’s a certain thing called taxes looming over the horizon. And unforeseen medical bills. And LIFE. Make things easy for yourself and put just a little bit of your hard-earned cash away every month. It needn’t be much but it will add up over time and you’ll be so thankful for it in the long run.

2. As unmotivated as you may be, start working out early, too.

Even though it may not feel like it in the aftermath of an epic night out, your late teenage years and your twenties are theoretically the prime of your life. You will never be better equipped to handle the strain of working out. Put your youthful body to use and prep it for the wear and tear of getting older. It’s so worth it.

3. Learning how to cook a simple + delicious meal will save your life.

Because being able to serve something other than cheese on toast when you have company feels so, so rewarding.

4. Spend time with the elderly.

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I learned this the hard way: both my wonderful grandmothers, whose abundant love I’d been showered with as I was growing up, passed away within a year of each other recently, leaving be bereft and wanting. As we no longer lived in the same country (and hadn’t for a good few years), spending time together was difficult and our relationship, although still loving, became more distant. Looking back now, I really wish I’d made more of an effort to spend some time with my grandmothers. I feel their loss keenly. Don’t do what I did – spend time with your elderly.

5. Get over your entitlement, stat!

As Millenials, we grow up being told we’re the bee’s knees. In a sense, this is positive because it bolsters our self-confidence, but it also gives us a sense of entitlement that has no place in the workplace. As harsh as this may sound, being told we are special over and over again doesn’t make us so and wearing your Gold Star on your lapel certainly won’t endear you with future employers. On that note…

6. Work hard, stay humble.

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This quote is a cliché for a reason: it’s true and it’s important! Working your behind off and letting your actions speak for themselves is a surefire way to get ahead. Being full of hot air and slacking isn’t. However…

7. Learn how to give yourself a break.

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It can be hard to be kind to ourselves and give ourselves a time-off when society piles sky-high expectations on us. However, learning to give yourself a break is one of the most important life lessons you’ll ever learn. You don’t have to be Super(wo)man and sometimes, the best thing you can do both for yourself and the task at hand is press pause and recentre yourself.

8. Some people are toxic. Stay away from them.

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It’s easier said than done, but that friend who always leaves you feeling exhausted and unhappy after you spend time with them? Cut them out of your life. Life is too short to waste your time and energy on people who make you feel like crap.

9. Your body is beautiful. Treasure it.

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You may not feel that way now, but your body is a thing of wonder – yes, even with those (imaginary!) lumps and bumps. Your body is capable of greatness. It’s also the only one we have, so making a point of looking after this mortal coil of yours should be on the top of your list of priorities. Feed it good, healthy food. Take it for a run around the bloc. Shower it with love and affection. And remember…

10. Your body can only take so much abuse.

You may be young now, but you won’t always be. (Wow, way to bring the mood down, Grandma!) While those vodka shots and super late nights may seem like a brilliant idea right now, be aware that no matter how invincible you feel, your body can only take so much before it crashes and burns. So, occasionally, trade in the party heels for a pair of slippers and a mug of tea. You’ll thank me later.

11. Reading is NOT a waste of time.

When you’re in school, unless you’re one of those people who devours books by the dozen (that’ll be me, then), reading can feel like a kind of cruel and unusual punishment. Often times, if you’re made to do something you don’t want to do, your first instinct when you don’t have to do it anymore is to throw your hands up shouting “F*ck the system!” and just stop. Don’t give up on reading. It’ll help you grow into a better human. Promise.

12. Hating things isn’t cool, nor does it make you look mysterious and attractive.

It just makes you look like a hater. And while you’re at it…

13. Don’t be a Negative Nancy.

I get it: it’s really, really easy to get caught up in other people’s negativity, often even without realising! But what you don’t know, is how pervasive negativity is and how deeply it impacts your life. What starts out with a little “innocent” gossip at the water cooler and a few unkind comments between friends can quickly transform into a horribly pessimistic outlook on life. As hard as it may be, choosing positivity is so much better for the soul.

14. Time heals MOST wounds.

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Another cliché, another nugget of wisdom. As crap as you feel now, you will feel better over time. Have patience and have faith.

15. Being in nature is good for the soul.

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Most of us live hyper-connected lifestyles in busy urban environments, without much opportunity to unplug and slow down. However, spending more time in nature is something that we should all strive for, as disconnecting from the frantic world around us for even just a couple of hours is a surefire way to recharge and return to our occupations refreshed and relaxed. Plus, it’s a wonderful way of reconnecting with our natures as human beings! Give it a try.

16. It’s not worth hanging on to clothes “just in case they fit”.

If your clothes don’t fit and all they do is make you feel cramped and uncomfortable, do. Not. Keep. Them! Trust me on this: keeping a pair of “motivation jeans” will not encourage you to lose weight; all they will do is make you miserable and take up space. Do your self-confidence and your closet a favour and give away the clothes you don’t need.

17. It’s OK not to be OK.

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Like I mentioned before, no one expects you to be a superhero all the time. We are all human; we all have emotions and sometimes, life just gets to us. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to give yourself a break. It’s okay to surrender to your feelings and have a good old cry, if you need to. No one will think any less of you (and if they do, they’re the toxic people I talked about earlier and it’s time to cut them out of your lives). Also…

18. You are not alone.

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No matter how isolated and desperate you may feel, know that everyone around you is fighting their own hard battle. And guess what? More people are experiencing what you’re experiencing than you think! Those problems and snags you keep running into? I’ll bet there’s a Facebook group or a forum or a community that can help with that. Try reaching out; you might be surprised at the outcome!

19. Being blind drunk just isn’t classy.

It really, really isn’t. Learn your limits early and respect them.

20. It really is best to be yourself. (Promise.)

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They say that imitation is the best form of flattery but always trying to be someone you’re not is no way to live – no matter how popular, beautiful or successful the person you’re trying to emulate is. Not only is it impossible to be exactly like the object of your admiration; pursuing this unattainable “ideal” will only make you frustrated and blind to your own, unique beauty.

21. Never stop learning.

Just because you’re out of school, it doesn’t mean that you should stop educating yourself. Making a point of keeping yourself up to date with what is going on in the world and keeping abreast of the latest developments in your industry will both give you an edge. Plus, learning keeps your brain sharp!

22. Work-life balance isn’t really a thing.

There will be times when you’ll be working yourself to the bone, and others when you’ll be twiddling your thumb (but trust me, there will be fewer of those until you retire). Chances are, your work-life balance will be totally out of sync most of the time. And guess what? It isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it just means you’ll have to prioritise and manage your time effectively and that, my friend, is an invaluable tool!

23. You never get unless you ask.

People aren’t mind-readers (unfortunately), so ask for what you want! Only those who ask get what they want. What’s the worst that could happen?

24. Keep an open mind (and an open heart).

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Be open to new experiences. Let new people in (even if you’re scared of getting hurt). Say YES. Live life with open arms, because before you know it, it’ll be too late and you’ll be filled with regrets.

25. YOUR opinion of yourself is the one that matters the most.

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At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is what you think of yourself; how you perceive yourself, whether you value yourself. People come and go, but you’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. Learn to listen to your intuition and your opinion of yourself before tuning into others’. Everything else is just white noise.

The post 25 Life Lessons I Have Learned Over The Last 25 Years appeared first on Lifehack.

5 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy (And 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent)

Things you should rent instead of buy

​​I ​know​…ownership is 9/10ths of the law. It’s really nice to know something belongs to you. But does it always make sense? Financially? Not really. In fact, there are many things that you should rent instead of buy. Including some things you didn’t even know you could rent. Obviously there are also things you should buy, so let’s talk about all of it. Let’s start with what you should be renting…

1. Your Home

Rent your house Buying a home is part of the “American Dream”. And there is nothing wrong with doing it…sometimes, but many times it doesn’t make sense. You’ve heard that renting is like throwing your money away. You may have heard that your home should be your biggest asset. Fortunately for you, neither one of those things are true. Sure, it’s great to buy your own home. It’s your home. You can feel proud to be a home owner and you can do whatever you will to the house, but wait until the time is right. The are plenty of times when renting makes the most sense. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s never a good idea. Here are a few times you should consider renting instead of buying:

  1. If you plan to move soon. This is a no-brainer, but it must be said. You aren’t wasting your money by renting, if you’re planning to move soon. It makes sense to rent for now. You can always buy later when you get where you’re going. Renting will be much less stressful for a temporary situation.
  2. If your market is inflated. A little inflation never hurt anybody, but some housing markets are insane. If your living in an area with extremely inflated housing prices, you can expect that bubble to pop eventually and you may be stuck with a mortgage twice the size of your house’s actual value.
  3. If you’re saving to buy a home. Don’t rush into a bad loan because you don’t have enough money for a down-payment. Just because you can find a “no money down” loan, doesn’t mean you should take it. The interest will eat you alive. It’s better to save for a while and make a large down-payment.
  4. If you don’t want to worry. Too often, we get caught up thinking that these decisions are only about the math and we forget that money is an emotional thing. If you don’t want to worry about maintenance or taking care of your own home, it’s perfectly fine to rent. Do what works for you.

I didn’t cover every single scenario that could possibly exist, but I did cover the most common ones. Just know that renting is an option. You’re not throwing your money away and you can always buy later.

2. Your Boat

Rent your boat A boat is a sinkhole for maintenance and repair costs. It almost always makes more sense to rent a boat, especially if you’re only using it a few times per year. Paying the docking fees, maintenance costs and repairs will be enough to make you consider renting a boat when you need it. If you do use it more than a few times throughout the year, consider getting together with a few families and co-owning a boat. This is common practice for private jets and yachts, but it’s worth considering for smaller purchases as well, like a pontoon boat or a speed boat. Everyone will benefit from sharing the cost of owning a boat and it will actually get used on more than a few 3 day weekends throughout the year. Exception: If you’re a fisherman (professional or “up-and-coming”), you may want to consider buying a boat. Small fishing boats are affordable and the maintenance costs are reasonable. You could consider this the exception to the rule, but if you aren’t fishing all the time, it could still be better to rent.

3. Your Tools

Rent your tools Obviously, if you’re a mechanic or a craftsman, buy tools. For the rest of us, it might make sense to rent them. There is no need to buy a tool for one project if you know you’re never going to use it again, no matter how cool you feel when you show it to your friends. Tools can be a sinkhole for your money, especially if you shop for tools, like you shop for groceries. Before any new tool purchase, you should ask yourself if you really need to buy it or if it would be better to rent it. Renting tools also gives you the option to insure them and not take on the responsibility of worrying about what happens if you forget that you super amazing laser-sight skill saw isn’t supposed to cut through steel. Home Depot and Lowe’s are just a couple of the places that offer tool rental.

4. Your Entertainment

Rent your entertainment Movies and video games are cheap to rent, but expensive to buy. How often do we buy a movie, only to watch it once? How often do we buy a $60 video game, only to beat it a week later and basically stop playing it? If you plan to watch the movie or play the game all the time, buy it. Otherwise, just rent it. If you must buy movies or video games, check out some Black Friday deals at electronics stores. Just wait for the crowds and the crazies to get their TVs and iPads, then leisurely stroll into the store, several hours later, and take advantage of the cheap movies and games that often get overlooked. But that’s only if you must buy. With places like Game Fly, NetFlix and RedBox, you really should be renting.

5. Your Sports

Rent your sports From water skis and snowboards to tennis rackets and scuba gear. If you’re not using it all the time, consider renting. I know, your arsenal of sporting gear from every recreational activity ever invented may look cool, but it’s wasting your money. And while it will save you some money, it also won’t clutter your garage and your storage room. Generally when you’re close to the sunny lake or the snowy slopes, you can find a place to rent some gear; however, shop around, because the places right next to all the recreation are usually the most expensive. Just driving a few miles outside of the area could easily save you half (or more) on the price of your sports equipment. Just always be sure to read the policy on “return condition” and what happens if something breaks.

Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent

OK, I admit, you may have actually know about some of these, but if you knew about all of them, you should really find a hobby. Here are 10 things you may want to consider renting that you probably didn’t know you could…

1. Dresses

With sites like Rent the Runway and Lending Luxury, it’s easy and affordable to rent a dress instead of buying it. In those times when you’re only going to wear it once, why let it take up the closet space?

2. Textbooks

Go to Book Renter or Chegg to find cheap textbooks for rent. Book Renter even offers free shipping. Renting text books makes sense most of the time, since you’re likely never going to open the book again after your class is over.

3. Camera Lenses

Lens Rentals and Borrow Lenses allow you to rent camera lenses. It’s great for one-time needs. You can also use them to try out an expensive lens before you fork over the money.

4. Parking Spaces

Just Park lets you search for parking spaces in crowded cities and rent them straight from the site. If you have extra space in a busy city, you may want to consider putting your parking space up for rent.

5. Caskets

Yes, you can rent a casket. Funeral homes now provide many options to save people money…this is one of them. How does it work? The body is placed in a simple wooden box, then placed inside a fancy, expensive casket for the funeral. Once the funeral is over, the body is buried in the simple wooden box. Weird? Or convenient? You decide.

6. Dogs

Usually, this is just weird. However, there are time when it makes sense. Borrow My Doggy allows you to rent a dog when you need a companion. If you really need a companion, you may just want to buy a dog, but you do have the option to rent if the need arises. You pay an annual subscription fee to be able to search the list of available dogs and schedule your “Welcome Woof”.

7. Wives

This is borderline sexist and technically, you’re not actually “renting a wife”. Rent-A-Wife is a maid service that claims to let you “rent a wife”, but it’s really just a hired hand…that happens to only be women. Yeah, I’m not sure why that’s OK either.

8. Friends

This may sound sad at first, but it’s actually a neat idea. Rent a Friend lets you rent someone to attend an event with you, introduce you to new people or just to hangout. It’s different, but now there is a little part of you that wishes you came up with the idea. (It may be a really tiny part of you)

9. Jeans

One trend that’s becoming especially popular in Europe, according to The Wall Street Journal, is jean rental. Right now, you can rent jeans on a 12-month lease. You simply put down 20 euros as a deposit and then pay 5 euros a month until your lease is up. Then you can either buy them for an additional 20 euros, exchange them for another pair or simply return them.

10. Christmas Trees

If you want a real tree for Christmas, but you don’t want to mess with driving to the farm, chopping it down and loading it on top of your freshly washed SUV, you can just rent one. The Living Christmas Company will let you rent one of their trees and they will deliver it right to your home. The tree remains potted, so you’re required to water and care for it. As long as the tree is still green and healthy when they pick it up, you get your deposit back.

Things You Should Buy

Now to steer away from renting wives and caskets. Here’s some less weird stuff. If you see the words “rent-to-own”, you should run away. Don’t do it. Renting to own is a great way to pay at least triple the normal price. Here are 3 things that people often get sucked into renting to own:

1. Furniture

Never rent-to-own furniture. You pay “new” prices, except you keep paying…every month. It’s better to finance new furniture (though that’s not the best idea either) than buying from a rent-to-own store. It’s best to buy slightly used. Let someone else take the massive depreciation that happens in the first few months of owning new furniture.

2. Washer/Dryer

Don’t do it. You’re better off shopping in the classifieds or on Craig’s List for a nice used set, rather than paying 10 times the price to rent one. If you must have a brand new set, it’s usually better to just go buy them, but not from a rent-to-own store.

3. Electronics

Don’t rent-to-own, just own. Shop around to find the best deals, but renting to own is not the way. On top of the high prices, what happens when that TV or stereo stops working? They aren’t going to pay for it, you are. There are too many great places to buy electronics to settle for renting to own. There are things you should rent and things you should buy, but most importantly, do your research. Figure out which one makes more sense for you and your situation. If you are thinking about buying something, first ask yourself if it could and should be rented.

Featured photo credit: AngiAesthetic via flickr.com

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12 Reasons Why Living In France Is Awesome

Living in france

France is one of the most beautiful and refined countries in Europe. Perfect climate, amazing foods and culture to dive into. If the chance to see the Eiffel Tower every day and experience incredibly delicious wine for just 3 euro/bottle are not enough, here are 12 more reasons that makes living in France so awesome.

1. Work to live, not live to work

rsz_110h Whereas the 35 hour work week is more of a myth, than a reality, the French still know how to maintain a proper life/work balance. One of the reasons behind closing the shops and services at 7 pm sharply, is to let employees enjoy dinner with the family back at home (ah, and double wages for overtime). More perks: an hourly lunch, usually paid for by the company as meal coupons to the nearest brasserie. And yes, there’s nothing bad in having a glass of wine with your food and getting back to business afterwards. The French have 30 days of paid vacations, starting to accumulate once they get hired. Plus, they do take vacations seriously and spend all 30 days outside the desk per year, yet are still feeling vacation deprived by the end of the year. And by no means, do not plan to have things do during August! You would be re-directed from one autoresponder to another. Yes, everyone are on vacation, serously soaking the sun somewhere at Northern Corsica. A French law banning employees from checking work emails after 6 pm made a huge fuss over the web. Whereas, it was badly misinterpreted, you should not expect your French partners to be available outside their working schedule. The French are experts in getting disconnected and opt for spending their free time outdoors – hiking, kayaking or simply having a picnic in the countryside. Or, having some quality time with family and friends as it’s one of those simple things in life that make us instantly happier.

2. Higher education is dirt cheap

You can get your BA or BS for just €181 (225$) per year and enroll to post-graduate studies for €250 (310$) a year! Engineering schools are a bit more pricey with annual tuition fee of €596 and obtaining a PhD in France will cost you €380 for each year of studies. Private colleges (think law and medical schools) cost more, however are still rather affordable with prices ranging from €3.000 to €10.000 per year. Besides, there’s a ton of scholarships available for foreign students to help you cover up your living expenses.Without splurging, you can have awesome student years in France, spending around 700-800€ per month including everything. Unless aiming for a really competitive field (everything fashion-related), entering a French university is rather simple. You need to be fluent in French (B1-B2 level) and have your official documents transcribed to French and the application form carefully filled in.

3. Concentration of art is overwhelming

Paris5 Along with the all famous Mona Lisa, the Louvre stores 34,999 more art works on display, including Egyptian antiques, Islamic Art, loads of sculptures from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, along with a huge jewelry collection of the French nobility. Let’s not forget about d’Orsay museum with over 2000 paintings from later periods! Incredible collection of Impressionist: Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir! Cubists, realists and even post-impressionists presented with Van Gogh. Just on the opposite side of the Sienna at west corner of goregeous Tuileries Gardens, stands Musee l’Orangerie – a spacious gallery hosting even more Renoir and Monet paintings. More into sculpture art? You can spend hours wondering around Musée Rodin gardeners and thinking with The Thinker sculpture just like the main hero of Midnight in Paris. In total there are 169 national art museums in France and a few hundred’s more privately owned galleries and studios. So yeah, it’s hard not become an art geek.

4. Food quality is regulated more strictly than visas

AOC (L’appellation d’origine contrôlée) – a special food certification system being around since 1411. It regulates the boundaries where certain goods can be produced and assuring the quality of regional foods. No sparkling wine can be called Champagne unless it comes from the same named province. The French take pride for guaranteeing that all AOC sealed products will hold to a harsh set of strictly outlined standards.All the goods will be produced in a traditional manner with only those ingredients that come from specific producers in designated geographical areas.

5. Over 350 types of cheese to try

3151007857_2d6b0ff511_b Locals claim it’s around a thousand due to slight regional varieties within each cheese type. Soft cheese, firm cheese, mild or blue. Made of unpasteurized cow milk, goat milk or lamb milk. Aged for a few weeks or a few years. Did you know you can be fined for caring Epoisses de Bourgogn cheese unpacked at public transport? Hint: it has an extremely strong odor. Quoting  Charles de Gaulle: “How can you govern a country that makes over 256 kinds of cheese?” Now I seriously, sympathize François Hollande – things got even tougher for him.

6. And even more divine wines from 17 wine regions

picjumbo.com_IMG_9135 France’s wine history dates back to the 6th century BC. I guess they do know what they’re doing! The French gave the world Champagne –  all wines with bubbles, coming from other provinces can only be called sparkling. Burgundy and Bordeaux are particularly famous for the reds. Alsace and the Loire valley produces mighty fine white fines along with Savoy province. Corisican rose and red have unusual bouquet of taste and Jura wines were recently called “The French Most Secret Wine” as they are rather unknown outside the country. And did I mention you can buy a bottle of fine wine at a supermarket starting from 3-4 euros?

7. L’heure du goûter makes life sweeter

276567842_c496a10cb8_b There is that amazing time of the day when you are socially encouraged to grab something sweet. It’s a typical four o’clock snack all kids enjoy after school. But it’s not restricted to kids! Take a break, go at the nearest boulangery to enjoy a cup of cafe au lait with yummy tart au citron.

8. The more you travel around, the more amazing regional dishes you discover

foodiesfeed.com_excelent-beef-steak-vegetables The French cuisine is really diversified and comprised of traditional dishes originating from different regions. Of course, in Paris you can find restaurants and bistors serving rich Alsatian foods or fragrant Provencal dishes. However, is it existing to discover new attractions along with new meals to try? Try buckwheat crêpes with whatever filling you can imagine in Brittany, Piperade and Poulet Basquaise in the French Basque country; Soupe de Poisson à la Rouille in Marseille; Pan Bagat sandwich in Nice and Soupe au Pistou in Provence. When traveling North-East you can not miss making a bite of Coq au Vin and  Boeuf Bourguignon in Burgundy; Flammekueche and Choucroute Garnie in Alsace; Coq au vin jaune and raclette in Franche-Comte and finish with a good slice of Quiche Lorraine in Metz. The good news is, you won’t get any extra pounds after your culinary adventures as the French meals are really well-balanced!

9. France has extremely diverse scenery to suit all tastes

tumblr_n381qgQRTS1st5lhmo1_1280The French Alps are one of the biggest and baddest hiking destinations in Europe with mind blowing views and petite remote villages on emerald plateaus. Ah, and it’s one of the greatest ski destinations too with a few thousand kilometers of scenic trails to master. Beach bums would love soaking the sun anywhere around Cote d’Azur (and secretly craving to meet someone famous). Yes, the warm waters here are of exactly the same turquoise color you see on pictures. Or better, hit on Corsica this summer – secluded beaches and sloppy mountains all in one place. The beaches here are even better then at the French Reverie and I seriously recommend making a detour around the island for the best outdoor experiences! The biggest sand dune in Europe – Dune of Pilat is just 60km away from Bordeaux. Glaciers – yep, there are 7 to be found in France. Love being active on vacations? How about kayaking in Gorges du Tarn or hiking around Gorges du Verdon – arguably, Europe’s most beautiful canyon. Love exploring underground mazes and icy caves – check out Gouffre de Poudrey or Grotte d’Osselle in Jura mounts. More into history? You’d love spending time in the Loire Valley, exploring over 40 gorgeous chateaux and fairy-tale like castles scattered all around the area. Note: there are even more castles in other regions of France. Bottom line: there are more incredible places to visit in France than you can imagine.

10. You can have all the benefits of a married couple without tying the knot.

In 1999 the French National Assembly passed Pacte civil de solidarité or simply PACS –  a contractual form of civil union for same-sex or opposite-sex couples to organizing their joint life. What’s so cool about PACS? First of all, it allows the couples pay joint taxes (think less taxes), have inheritance rights, co-own property and have children registered under mother’s/father’s or both names.  Secondly, your foreign partner can receive a residence permit after you get PASCed,. Thirdly, it’s an awesome way to test if are both prepared for spousal life and shared lifelong commitments. If not, well, it’s way easier to get un-PACSed, then to file a divorce.

11. The government helps you raise kids

picjumbo.com_IMG_9728 A huge number of childcare and pre-schooling services are fully covered by the government. There are special subsidies for in-home childcare and special benefits towards having more than one kid – from extra cash to lower taxes and all sort of major discounts for transportation.  Women are encouraged to take maternity leaves and receive their full salary for 16 weeks. Fathers can also take up to 11 days of paternity leave with no loss of pay. The government also pays you up to € 1 846.15 if you prefer to adopt a child. Basically, as a women you have a tough choice to make: go to work and bring 1.500-2.000 euro monthly income or stay at home, spoil your kids till they get 20 and receive around 1.200 euro for that. Now, ladies, what would you choose? :)

12. Healthcare is affordable and efficient

The French residence card comes along with carte vitale – your pass into the world of reimbursements medicine, cheap (or free) prescription drugs and free medical checks you can request each other month. Each month a flat rate is taken from your salary and transferred to your health insurance fund, so that you can visit your GP doctor for free. If you get hospitalized, the most significant charge you may be needed to pay is an 18€ per day.

Featured photo credit: Paris in winter via shutterstock.com

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11 Differences Between Real Friends and Fake Friends

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Friendship is one of the best aspects of life. That said, certain friends are certainly much better than others. A real friend and fake friend can be hard to distinguish, but they are very different! Real friends are people you can go to for anything. You know they will always be on your side, through thick and thin. Fake friends might as well be scum of the Earth for all the support they will give you. Use this guide to figure out if your friends are your real friends!

1. Support you in all your endeavors

A real best friend will encourage you with anything that you try! Whether it be taking up square dancing, or changing your career path, a real friend will be there every step of the way.

2. Love your dorky personality

We all have those dorky things we do on a regular basis. A real friend loves those things! In fact, if they are a true real friend they just might join in with you!

3. Forgive you for anything

tumblr_mfzzva2H5d1rkq3b6o1_500 Sometimes you royally screw up. With fake friends, a mistake can cost you a friendship. Real friends will know that sometimes you’ll mess up. They will forgive you because they value your friendship more than your (temporary) mistake.

4. Always have your back

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It isn’t a matter of who is on the other side, what the issue is, or if you’re in the wrong – a real friend will stand by you no matter what. They always are on your side and will fight for you with no questions asked. That’s just what a real friend does!

5. Let you explore your interests

As we grow, we discover new interests, and sometimes they seem very unlike ourselves! Fake friends will make fun of you and tell you to stick to the status quo. *cue High School Musical song* A real friend will let you do your thing and encourage you to explore this new part of yourself.

6. Know all your little quirks

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We all have little quirks about ourselves (IE: we are cranky in the morning, we get flirtatious when drunk, we eat too many dinner rolls, etc.) that only our true friends know about. No one else knows you quite like your real friends. The fact that they notice those little quirks about you is a good sign!

7. They constantly keep in contact

Fake friends will only contact you when they need something or want to know some juicy gossip. Real friends will contact you wherever and whenever because they are always interested in what’s going on in your life. They don’t have to know the latest gossip about your relationship. They might just want to know what you had for lunch today.

8. They keep your secrets

If you can trust anyone to not gossip around town about your dark little secrets, it’s your real friends. Fake friends will treat your secrets like it’s nothing sacred. A real friend values your confidence, and will not tell anyone.

9. Don’t have to dress to impress

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If you have to put on really nice clothes, do your hair, and make sure that you smell nice just to hang out – then you know you have fake friends. A true friend will let you come over in sweatpants with unwashed hair. The worst they might do is make a joke, but they won’t really care at all. They just want to spend time with you. Real friendship is measured in how gross you can look when you hang out!

10. They make time for you

It doesn’t matter if they only have an hour between work and their pottery class, a real friend will let you come over for a drink any time. It isn’t a matter of time, it’s a matter of they want to spend time with you, rather than having time to themselves.

11. Always have a shoulder to cry on

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A big difference between real and fake friends is how they deal with your ups and downs. If you’re feeling down, a fake friend will pat you awkwardly on the shoulder and try to change the subject. Your real friends will wrap you in their arms and listen to you blubber all night, if you want them to. Real friends are there for you, whether you’re happy or sad.

If you’re trying to decide whether your friends are genuine or not, hopefully this guide helped you decipher which kind of friends you surround yourself with! It’s time to get real.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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