Who’s The Saddest Shark In The Tank?

Shark Tank
Shark Tank

I cancelled my cable when I moved and am now living that Netflix and Hulu Plus life. When I made the change I thought I’d watch WAY less TV because my options would be scarce (they barely even carry Bravo shows on Hulu!) but I was DEAD WRONG. I’m basically a full-time binge-watcher now. I’m covered in the “everything” from the bagels, I am surrounded by Caffeine Free Diet Coke cans, my dog keeps looking at me like, “really, sis?”

The greatest gift that these unlimited limited options have given me is a show by the name of Shark Tank. It’s five super rich people on a panel deciding whether or not they want to invest an assload of money into a variety of contestant’s businesses. It’s great.

On the panel is Mark Cuban and his haunting schoolboy smile, Barbara Corcoran and her glazed Veneers (does it not look and sound like she JUST took a bite of cream cheese?), Daymond John the genius behind Fubu, Kevin O’Leary AKA Mr. Wonderful who plays the heavy and Lori Greiner from QVC. She has over a hundred patents which I guess is a huge deal. And then there’s Roger Herjavec, the son of an immigrant factory worker who created a digital empire worth millions.

I have actual feelings (largely positive) about each of the judges because I’m past the point of undressing them via their TV-ready personalities and (YOU GOT IT!) shark-like negotiation skills. I watch the show and think about their childhoods, what lead them to be so shark-y, what makes them tick and what makes them cry.

Just recently I realized that Herjavec is the most fascinating Shark in the tank. He’s typically a nice guy and attempts to be somewhat of a joker. His behavior around the rest of the group is what gives his truest colors away and oh man, there’s some darkness going on in there.

Let’s say there’s a contestant who is presenting his new line of bath salts for men. The packaging is sleak, minimalist and the man-oriented scents (like bacon-Christmas Tree) pack a punch. The dominant guy’s guy Marc Cuban has already removed himself from the negotiation process after laughing in the contestants face. Barbara has removed herself because she can’t imagine her seventeen year old son using such a product. Mr. Wonderful is still in but tugging on every thread in the contestant’s business proposal. Before taking himself out, Daymond makes a joke about not wanting to “deck the halls with bows of bacon.” The panel erupts with laughter. Herjavec is the last one laughing once of the rest of the panel is down. He looks to the contestant and says something like, “Screw Christmas Vacation, you’re talking Christmas Baca-tion!”

His joke is met with a smattering of pitty giggles by Lori and Beth. He adjusts his jacket, looks down at his notebook and asks the contestant a practical question about long-term growth.
These are the moments that haunt me. It doesn’t matter that Herjavec has earned enough money to keep his grandkid’s grandkids in private schools and summer homes. In his heart, he is still the son of an immigrant factory worker. He has never learned how to feel fully accepted and confident in his persona because he’s still working overtime to be told he belongs. And that’s just fucking sad, man. It really says it all.

Anyway, I think Shark Tank is on tonight for people with regular cable, so watch it if you’re around and let me know if you see the mix of hunger and sadness in Roger Herjavec’s eyes. I’d also like to know what you think Lori’s had done and if you have no doubt that Mr. Wonderful is a serial cheater. I’d really like feedback on my theory that Cuban is basically Patrick Bateman with a family, a loud personality and an ever-present grin. Also— how gay is Daymond? TC mark



21 Bone Chilling Six Word Horror Stories About Your Ex

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

1. And then they started walking over.

2. Are you still up right now?

3. We need to talk, he/she said.

4. [INSERT EX’S USERNAME] liked your photo

5. [INSERT EX’S FACEBOOK NAME] is attending

6. Hey, isn’t that him/her over there?

7. You have seven new voicemails from:

8. Connect with [EX’S NAME] on LinkedIn!

9. Don’t look, but he’s coming over.

10. “I miss you, can we talk?”

11. When can I bring your stuff?

12. “Ran into _____, they looked good.”

13. “Wish [EX’s NAME] a happy birthday!”

14. “I saw that you unfollowed me.”

15. *Phone rings* Call from Restricted

16. “Let’s Get Back Together” (Part 5)

17. *Accidentally swipes ex right on Tinder*

18. “Let’s get coffee and catch up?”

19. *Your ex’s favorite song begins playing*

20. *Stops at longest light: THEIR CAR*

21. *Opens wallet for condom: THEIR FACE* TC mark



10 Quotes About Real-Life Monsters That Are Scarier Than Halloween

chatelaines / (Shutterstock.com)
chatelaines / (Shutterstock.com)
The best part of Halloween is the scary movie marathons, dressing up in hilarious and terrifying costumes, and the spookiness that lingers in the air the entire month of October. The second-best part, though, is the knowledge that none of it is real. The monster under your bed isn’t really there. But some monsters are. TC mark

1.

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
Stephen King

2.

“The real world is where the monsters are.”
Rick RiordanThe Lightning Thief

3.

“Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”
Stephen KingThe Shining

5.

“There are no heroes…in life, the monsters win.”
George R.R. Martin

5.

“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
Primo Levi

6.

“But these weren’t the kind of monsters that had tentacles and rotting skin, the kind a seven-year-old might be able to wrap his mind around–they were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep, so banal you don’t recognize them for what they are until it’s too late.”
Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

7.

A monster. You and your friends, all of you. Pretty monsters. It’s a stage all girls go through. If you’re lucky you get through it without doing any permanent damage to yourself or anyone else.”
Kelly Link

8.

“Not all the monsters have fangs.” 
J. A. London

9.

“Adults are the real monsters.”
Stephen King

10.

“The monstrous act by definition demands a monster.” 
Rick Yancey



13 A**holes You Need To Avoid At This Weekend’s Halloween Party

Hocus Pocus
Hocus Pocus

1. The Racist Asshole

Blackface, afro wigs, binidis, geisha makeup: this person sees nothing wrong with appropriation. They’re over age 18 and have no ~youthful ignorance~ excuse. Tell this person to get a Tumblr and a fucking clue.

2. The Asshole Who Condescendingly Asks What You Are

“What are you supposed to be?” Supposed? Um, I am a zombie sailor, you pretentious dick in a beret.

3. The Asshole Who Thinks They Obnoxiously Have To Stay In Character

This asshole dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and all of the sudden they’re constantly talking in an accent and asking where the rum’s gone. You actually would like some of the rum, but they will not let up. They’re Mary Kate Olsen, chainsmoking inside your apartment even though you expressly forbid lighting up indoors. They’re the terrible Bridget Jones with the lazy British accent and even lazier lame sweater set costume. Worst of all, they think that their getup is superior to everyone else’s just because they’re letting it run their lives.

4. The Halloween Truther Asshole

“Did you know that ‘all hallow’s eve’ was originally a Christian holiday designed t-” ERROR 404 REASON FOR BEING THIS MUCH OF A DOUCHE NOT FOUND ;;;;;;;;

5. The Group Photo Asshole

“Everyone get together! OMG! SO GOOD! MAKE A FUNNY FACE. OMG. You NEED a picture together! KRAMER AND ROSS, I LOVE IT!!!!!”

6. The ‘Too Soon’ Asshole

Costumes for 2014: Robin Williams, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the Ebola virus, Ferguson. This asshole’s parents never told them ‘no.’ Just no.

7. The Asshole Who’s Covered In Fake Blood

This asshole would be totally in the spirit and awesome if they hadn’t used the janky homemade formula that makes their fake blood rub off as a bright red stain on everything they touch, including, but not limited to: you, your clothes, your friends, your friends’ clothes, your possessions, your walls, the keg, and your sheets.

8. The ‘I Hate Slutty Costumes’ Asshole

This asshole tends to be a guy, but it can also be a holier-than-thou girl who’s decided it’s their completely alternative, indie, original idea to hate the idea of a ‘slutty’ take on any costume. They are not here to have fun, they are here to preserve the tradition of the holiday itself. Catch these assholes sipping a craft beer, talking to no one, and side-eyeing every single person in a Hermione outfit that isn’t a black robe and a frizzy wig.

9. The ‘My Costume Involves A Water Gun’ Asshole

This asshole came to bring the LOLz by turning every other partygoer into a drowned rat. They could’ve been considerate and put tequila in their watergun, but no, it is just water, and it is just the worst.

10. The Asshole Who Thinks Hating Halloween Is Cool

This person lives at the intersection of Insufferable Avenue and Pretentious Street. They’re somehow ‘too old for this’ yet still out at the bar with you, and when you ask them why the hell they actually came out, they’ll be like, “I’m asking myself the SAME thing.” And then both of you will disintegrate into the ether of actually being characters in a poorly written Zach Braff movie.

11. The Asshole Who’s Dressed As Genitalia

“Isn’t it HILARIOUS that I wore this giant condom out? LOL? Get it?! I’m a dickhead!!!” Okay, yeah, it was funny for five minutes but now you’re touching me and I’m uncomfortable.

12. The Asshole Who Doesn’t Get Why No One Gets Their Costume

They look like they just walked out of a GAP ad and you have no idea what they’re supposed to be and they keep baiting the hell out of you to get it. “The lead singer of Mumford & Sons, come on!”

13. The Genius Asshole Who Wore The Exact Same Costume As You

You. Fucking. Asshole. Did we just become best friends? TC mark



A Model’s Candid Thoughts On Body Image

It struck me the other night that if I didn’t look in the mirror, I would never feel fat. How I only just realized this I don’t know. Now don’t get me wrong, I know I’m not fat, in fact I’m quite slim for someone my age and height, logically I know that, but like most girls out there I too have “fat days.”

You think that sounds ridiculous, right? Well yes you are right, it is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real and it’s not relevant. And I know I’m not alone in this. So before you tell me to shut up because I’m a model and therefore I must be skinny and all that bullshit, that doesn’t mean I’m not just like almost every other girl out there who is, at times, insecure about their body.

Isn’t it interesting how what we see in our reflection can determine our relationship with how we feel about the way we look. I say “how we feel” because it really is just how we feel. For many women (too many women) it’s these feelings which form the basis of what we believe is reality. What we see is what we are. We feel fat therefore we are fat. How ridiculous is that?

There’s a scale of extremities in reaction too; for some it’s a fleeting moment and they just brush it off, for others it’s enough to ruin a day, and for far too many it’s enough to send them into a tailspin of anxiety. Why? Because they think their legs look fat, or their arms are flabby, or their hips are too big. But realistically, are they any of these things? I’m guessing probably not, or at least not nearly to the extent they believe themselves to be.

My revelation really got me thinking about the topic of body image and young women. With summer just around the corner in the Southern Hemisphere and girls everywhere declaring war on their bodies before bikini season hits, I thought it timely to open a dialogue about some of the things I’ve learned, observed, and realized in my seven years as a model and 24 years as a girl on the subject of body image.

Please bear in mind while reading this that these are just my opinions and observations based on my own experiences and the experiences of those around me; in other words, this is based on MY world and there are, of course, always exceptions. Remember also that I have spent the last seven years working in the modeling and fashion industries (in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and the United States) to some degree, both of which thrive on a superficial level. I don’t necessarily mean this as a negative thing, but it is a fact in this type of work that looks are everything. Who knows, maybe if I was an accountant or a lawyer or a vet I would feel differently. Either way, these are things I’ve noticed and learned along the way which you may or may not agree with.

Another point to note — I’m mainly referring to body image issues in otherwise “normal” and “healthy” young women. Even using these words ‘healthy’ and “normal” is fraught with tension because to some extent that’s subjective and open to entire debate on its own (and yes I do think you can be bigger and still be healthy — but that’s a talk for another day), but you know what I mean for the purposes of this discussion.

Okay, so these are some of the things I have learned about body image over the years.

Mirrors are anything but a reflection of who you are.

Mirrors, money, men. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. No, but really, mirrors are the root of so much negativity related to body image. What you see in your reflection may or may not be what you are in reality. Learn the difference. Be rational. Chances are you’re not anywhere near as “fat” as you think you are.

It’s all in your head.

You create how you think your body looks in reality with thoughts based on irrational feelings which you believe to be facts. Okay, that’s a mouthful but you get my point. Stop blowing it up in your head and drop the negative words. Change your thoughts, change your behavior. Why not say I look fucking awesome in this dress and wear that confidence as well as you wear that LBD. That’s looking and feeling great!

There is no such thing as normal.

How can there be when everybody (and every body) is so different? Yes there are parameters of healthy, but I don’t think it’s fair to say this is normal or that is normal. Change the dialogue. Drop the word normal and replace it with the world healthy otherwise as soon as you fall outside that category your negative body talk is amplified. Healthy is aspirational (and healthy doesn’t mean skinny), normal is just stupid.

Skinnyfat definitely exists.

This is something I have noticed a lot in the modeling world, you get a lot of girls who are very thin but they’re not in good shape. They have no muscle tone and they don’t eat well. Just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean they’re toned (or healthy). Maybe it should actually be renamed skinnysoft. They’re ‘soft.’ It exists.

Boys think you’re either skinny or you’re fat.

I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve met who describe girls as either “skinny” or “fat” (yes, I have met a lot of douchebags). To them there’s no normal, healthy, toned etc. It’s just the one of two options; skinny (i.e. has a thigh gap) or fat (size 10+). This is so beyond ridiculous and it makes me so mad. Every time I ever hear a male make a comment like this I call them up on it and point out how in fact that girl is what I would call healthy/slim and then proceed to tell them how its comments like these that perpetuate body image issues in women. At this point they usually shut up. Of course there are a lot of wonderful men out there who would never speak like this, but I’m referring to the shallow boys (you can still be a boy at 35).

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

This is mainly aimed at guys, especially those who are overweight, but unless you’ve got the body of a male Dolce & Gabbana model please do not comment on that girl’s “fat ass” when you look like you just ate an entire bucket of KFC. Thanks. And likewise don’t call a model fat when a. she’s anything but, and b. she’s a lot smaller than you’ll ever be. Just because she’s a model doesn’t mean she’s perfect. We’re all human. We all have flaws.

Never date a guy who makes you feel insecure about your body or comments on what you eat.

This is pretty self explanatory but your boyfriend (or girlfriend) is supposed to make you feel like the you’re the best person in the entire world. If they make you feel bad about yourself, especially when you have nothing to worry about, or they nitpick at everything you eat then please drop their ass before you get a complex. You want the guy who wants to have a three course meal with you and brings you ice-cream when your sad, not the guy who says “are you sure you want to eat that?” Douche.

Models do eat.

Nothing irks me more than when people assume models don’t eat, or even worse when they make stupid jokes like “oh you wouldn’t eat that because you’re a model.” I mean, PUH-LEASE. Sure there are a few girls here and there who take it to an extreme (more often than not the international runway models who are subject to minuscule measurement restrictions), but of the countless models I know (especially in the Australasian market) and in the numerous model apartments I lived in internationally I can assure you that the girls do eat. Their eating patterns may be a bit different to your average person’s (when you’re earning that much to look a certain way of course you’re going to watch what you eat a little more carefully than someone who doesn’t have to parade around in lingerie to make money) but for the majority of girls I know, this is not an issue. Case in point: have you ever been backstage at a fashion show? Put out some food out and it’s like moths to a flame. Fun fact: I would say in New Zealand the most common form of food given to the models is pizza. Do they eat it? Hell yes, they do.

Hangry is a real thing.

Hangry = hungry + angry. Models become very hangry if you don’t feed them. Please feed the models!

Cellulite is a fact of life.
Ew is what you’re probably thinking. I’ll admit, I hate cellulite as much as the next girl, or should I say every girl. “I love cellulite” — said no one EVER. But do you know what I’ve learned? It’s a fact of life, so get over it. The way I see it is you have two options: either deal with it or feel like shit every time you take a shower or go to the beach or have sex or try on lingerie or whatever else requires you to bare all. Sure there are things you can do to reduce the appearance of it — eat well, drink lots of water, body brush, exercise etc. — and in fact all these things fall under my ‘deal with it’ category, but the fact of the matter is that it all comes down to your fat cells and your genes. So, despite your best efforts at reducing its visibility, you still might be stuck with dimpled skin. In this case, rather than dreading the fact that you can’t wear your opaque stockings at the beach, just get over it and realize that at least half (probably more but this is just an estimated guess) the females around you are in the same bumpy boat. Skinny (models included), slim, healthy, overweight — no body type is exempt and I’ve seen it all, and chances are you have too. Eat well, exercise, and drink plenty of water and the rest is up to Mother Nature…

Boobs are awesome.
I used to hate having big boobs. I can remember being 14 and 15 and being mortified by the fact that I had a C-cup, and feeling even worse when people would state the obvious. Duh, you think I didn’t notice I had these massive lumps of fat glued to my chest. Cue some serious insecurity. It wasn’t really until I spent time in Europe as a 22 year old that I actually started to appreciate being genetically blessed in that department. What changed? The fact that every girl I came across seemed to want big boobs or have a boob job certainly helped shift my perception. Yes, I needed that validation, but that was enough to change my mindset and I’ve been happy ever since. Oh and make the most of it, not only are there are plenty of clothes out there that will only look good on you, but guys think your boobs are goddamn sexy.

Don’t judge a book by its cover and yes you can be skinny and eat whatever you want.

Just because someone is slim doesn’t mean they’re healthy, just because someone is bigger doesn’t mean they’re unhealthy, and just because someone is skinny (like model skinny) doesn’t mean they don’t eat. I know countless girls who are in great shape, some even super thin, and can eat whatever they want. Do you know what the difference is? These girls tend to have a healthier relationship with food than anyone else I know. Take note of what I said — they can eat whatever they want. Therein lies the difference — what they want is not mountains of crap. These are the kinds of girls who actually listen to their bodies and they eat accordingly; if they’re hungry, they’ll eat. They eat a balanced diet and tend to make healthy choices because that’s what their body craves. They don’t deny themselves of treats; if they want cake, they’ll eat cake). They certainly don’t have emotional binges, however they will sometimes have a blowout (had a few too many treats at a shared afternoon tea — no biggie. IT’S OKAY!). They also exercise to a normal degree. On the flipside, I also know a lot of girls who may have a so-called ‘banging body’ but they are far from healthy. You know the types — they’re the super strict, no carbs, no dessert types. We all know that doesn’t last. Fuck that.

Exercise should never be a chore.

Exercise should be about feeling good and being healthy. It should be something you look forward to and enjoy and pumps you full of energy. It should not be a chore. How many girls do you know who dread going to the gym or force themselves to exercise even though their body is telling them to rest? My advice: find something you love and do it for the right reasons. Don’t force yourself to do it because you feel like you have to. I think exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, but in saying that I think the motivation behind it is what makes it a healthy vs. unhealthy. Think about it.

Models are the worst gauges of a healthy body.

Whatever you do, do not compare yourself to the 16-year-old girl in the magazine who’s barely been through puberty when you’re 26 and wondering why you don’t look like she does in a bikini, or those shorts, or that dress. Chances are when she’s 26 her body won’t look much like it did in those pictures. Don’t forget it!

And lastly, I’ve never personally met a single girl who’s genuinely said “I love my body!”

I left this until last because I think it’s the most disturbing realization of the lot. Maybe you know someone who can say with 100% confidence they love their body, but to this day I am yet to come across such a person. To me, that’s pretty devastating.

Every single female I know has insecurities to some degree. Of course there are the kind of girls who don’t like a certain body part but they get over it and it’s all okay, but the fact is they’re still dissatisfied with something, to some extent or another. What do you think? For most young women to truly love their bodies 100% — is it possible? I’m not talking about just being satisfied or comfortable, but really, truly embracing exactly what they are so that it’s not even a case of having “flaws” and brushing them off, but genuinely not even seeing any “flaws” in the first place. Body beautiful? I’m not sure, but I’m hopeful…

Well, there you have it. Women are crazy and irrational when it comes to their bodies. So, what’s my advice?

Firstly, take a step back (from the mirror too). Be realistic. Listen to your body and ask yourself honest questions — how do you feel physically? How are your energy levels? Do you ‘feel’ healthy? Are you exercising because you want to or because you feel like you have to? Do you realistically think you’re going to gain the 2kg you swear you did because you ate the whole packet of biscuits?

If you’re craving something, just eat it. It’s not like you’re going to be lying on your death bed thinking man, I’m glad I ate those grapes instead of chocolate cake. In fact, chances are you’ll be like damn, I wish I ate more cake. Just eat the fucking cake.

Maintain a “healthy” lifestyle — eat well (that is eat a balanced diet and don’t deprive yourself of treats. I like to think of it as an ‘everything in moderation’ kind of thing), exercise for vitality, make sure you get enough rest, don’t smoke (ew!), and try not to drink too much (it’s hard, I know).

Tell your friends how ridiculous they’re being when they make irrational and incorrect statements about their bodies. Don’t turn around by saying something equally as stupid about yours.

And finally, tell that guy to please shut the fuck up when he tells you that maybe you shouldn’t have that ice cream, or when he calls a skinny girl fat. Or throw your drink on him for being a pig. I would. TC mark

featured image – Shutterstock



5 Last Minute Tricks To Avoid Looking Stupid On Halloween

Mean Girls
Mean Girls

DITCH THE HEELS

I don’t mean “ditch the heels” the way Cosmo means it when they’re talking about paring ballet flats with a casual fall look as if it’s as unbridled as helping yourself to dessert more than once a week. When I say it I mean, “Wearing heels when your night’s basically a simple-sugar fueled bar crawl is begging for failure.”

If you don’t wind up tripping and spilling punch cooled with dry ice all over your nurses’ uniform, a guy dressed like Cookie Monster will surely get his fur tangled in your stiletto and take out half of the pumpkin carving contest in the process. And the host will cry because let’s face it: she was going to anyway.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

If you still have time, return the other two costumes you bought as alternates. You will wear them once, have your picture taken in them and you’ll never wear them again (if you’ve got a full bag of marbles.)

Think about it: When you walk into a Halloween party, you’re usually more drawn to the hot dude who taped a hand-written sign around his neck that reads, “Ebola.” It’s simple, it’s funny, you can see his face. The dude wiping sweat from his brow, holding a Bullwinkle head that matches his furry one-piece is getting “aww”s from sympathetic passersby wishes he was him.

And for chicks: Much like most situations in life, we’re totally set up for failure in this department. Skip the bejeweled face—it’ll take days to get it off. Don’t spray colored hairspray into your hair— it’s cheap and crusty and you’ll be rinse and repeating until it’s time to go to work on Monday. Skip the hot wigs, the parts of your costume that are hard to carry or maintain (take a walk around the block with your angel wings on and if they need to be adjusted more than three times, ditch them.)

You do not need to wear an “funny costume” that’s meme-able. There are people shooting cops out there. These times are too real for your bullshit.

AVOID THE HYPE

Ticket parties, long lines and packed subway rides are bullshit. Go to a small house party or a dive bar. It’s exactly the same thing as negotiating your tail while commuting four hours to a warehouse where you were told Diplo would be performing. Guess what? Diplo is not performing. The drinks are going to be weak. You’ll keep losing your friends. A stranger dressed as Amy Winehouse will try to sneak a finger in your felt leopard body suit.

SAVE YOUR MONEY

If you’re torn between a fifty-dollar costume and a ten dollar costume, go for the ten. If you can’t pick between the haunted house that’s a local tradition and the cheap-o one that let’s out directly in front of your favorite bar, you’re nuts. Who needs a haunted house? Life is scary enough. In addition to the dead police and the Ebola, there are also teens being shot by police, airplanes going missing, natural disasters, terrorism and Amanda Bynes. Keep it simple.

SKIP THE WHOLE THING

If your plans aren’t clear, don’t force it. Maybe see that movie “Nightcrawler.” I don’t know if it was the generous hit off my PAX that made it so, but that might have been the best movie I’ve ever seen. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a thirsty weirdo who’s desperate to get the best news cam he can. He gets himself into quite a situation! A situation so good that I refuse to spoil it for you!

Just go to the movies or have a game night (if you’re like, 33). Call over some friends, eat some special brownies and talk about your exes. Buy some curious-looking wines from Trader Joes and host a queer little wine party. Head over to Islands and get some burgers. Start your Christmas shopping. Halloween is over. TC mark



How To Build A New Habit In 3 Easy Steps (And Make It Stick)

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Are you a master of a skill?

Perhaps you’re fluent in a language. A Grade 8 pianist. Or a master craftsman in carpentry.

If you are, it’s not necessarily a result of your income, personal circumstances, upbringing or any other variable. It’s a result of something a lot more powerful.

Something you have complete control over.

It’s a result of habit.

The people who have mastered their businesses, their love lives, their health or any other area, have done so because they have mastered their habits (be it consciously or unconsciously).

But there is a price to pay: It requires a lot of hard work and years of practice.

A lot of us want to change our habits for the better; we want to eat healthy, exercise regularly and start writing, to name a few.

And it’s not that we’re unmotivated; we’re not: It’s that we often don’t know where to start. We don’t know how to change.

But, it doesn’t have to be hard, once you know how. Once you have a framework for change.

This article is that how.

How a Habit Works

In his New York Times best-selling book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change, Charles Duhigg explains at the core of every habit is the same neurological loop, called The Habit Loop. [1]

See Figure 1:

Sam2

The cue is the trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. The routine is the behaviour itself. This can be an emotional, mental or physical behaviour. And the reward is (1) the reason you’re motivated to do the behaviour and (2) a way your brain can encode the behaviour in your neurology – if it’s a repeated behaviour.

Once the brain begins to crave the reward, the habit becomes automatic.

Once you understand how habits work, you can begin to strategise how to build new ones.

How to Build a New Habit

Simplicity changes behaviours

– B.J. Fogg.

All habits are different and some are easier to form than others. It’s easier to drink a glass of water upon waking up, than it is to go running every morning.

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take 21 days to build a new habit. In fact, there’s no solid evidence for this number at all. It’s actually closer to 66 days. [2]

Checking your iPhone when you receive a notification, accepting a chocolate that’s offered to you and turning on the television when you sit down, are all examples of habits we’ve picked up and conditioned, easily, because of their immediate payoffs.

However, when exercising, eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and flossing daily are new behaviours, they have no immediate reward and are harder to commit to.

Therefore, the following three step model is for habits that are hard to create because their rewards are delayed. [3]

Step 1. Make Your Habit Tiny

The first step is to focus on, what Stanford University researcher B.J. Fogg calls “tiny habits”. These are the smallest behaviours that matter (or SBTM for short). A tiny habit has to be:

  1. A behaviour you do at least once a day.
  2. Takes you less than 30 seconds to do.
  3. Requires little effort.
  4. Is relevant to the full behaviour.

If you don’t make your behaviour tiny to begin with, you will almost certainly fail to create a new daily habit.

For example, if you start out running one hour each day, you won’t create a habit of exercise.

But if you commit to putting on your running shoes, you are, as Leo Babauta would comment, “making it so easy, you can’t say no”. [4]

Later – perhaps months later – you can expand on your habit. But when you do, the larger behaviour will be easier. Why? Because the more you do something, the easier it becomes.

Consider all of your existing habits. They are all easy to do because you’ve practiced them for thousands of hours. Soon, your new habit will be no different.

Step 2. Do Your Tiny Habit Immediately after an Existing Behaviour

The next step is to identify an existing habit. This is going to be the cue that triggers your new behaviour.

Ask yourself: “What behaviour do I always do, regardless of how I feel?”

This can include waking up, showering, going to the bathroom and brushing your teeth, to name a few.

You need to know what your tiny behaviour comes “after”. For example: “After I brush my teeth, I’m going to floss one tooth”.

Step 3. Celebrate Tiny Successes

The final step is to celebrate doing your new habit. You may find this approach weird, but it works, because the ability to self-reinforce good behaviour is the key to rapid habit formation.

You can speed up the process of habit formation by experiencing positive emotions about your tiny habit the moment you remember to do your tiny habit sequence and after you do it.

When I build a new habit, I physically rehearse the sequence a few times, each time declaring victory. This gets your brain wired to remember it.

For example, my newest tiny habit is doing two press-ups after I’ve meditated. I sit down to meditate (cue), then I get in the position to do a push-up (routine) and finally, I celebrate my tiny success by patting myself on the back (reward). I repeat this sequence a few times until I’ve got it down pat.

There are multiple ways you can celebrate tiny successes. You can do a physical movement like a thumbs up. Say a word or phrase like “Awesome!” internally or out loud. Or move your face to look happy like smiling in the mirror. Whatever you do, make it personal to you.

A Final Word

Every day, just do your tiny behaviour immediately after the existing behaviour you’ve chosen and remember to celebrate. Here, your brain and body is learning a sequence. “After I X, I do Y and I feel Z”. For example, “After I meditate, I do two push-ups and I feel awesome!”

Note, that in this step, you are learning to put a new behaviour into your routine. You are not learning the behaviour itself.

Let me explain. Suppose you want to floss daily. You already know how to do it. But what you don’t know is how to do it regularly. You haven’t mastered putting flossing into your routine as an automatic action – yet. But tiny habits will help you do that.

The more you train this new routine, the more the new behaviour will automatise and become the new normal.

Learn how to implement tiny habits in your daily routine and soon, others will marvel at the apparent ease you became a master yourself – a master of habit. TC mark

Sources:

[1] Duhigg, C. (2012) The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change, New York: Random House.

[2] Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998–1009. Doi: 10.1002/ejsp.674

[3] Fogg, B.J. (2014) Tiny Habits, (Accessed: 29th October 2014).

[4] Babauta, L. (2013) The Four Habits that Form Habits(Accessed: October 30 2014).



4 Things I’ve Learned From Loving You

I thought we could work things out, that we could be friends. I thought that after five years of wanting you, two and a half years of having you, and two years of letting you go, that I would be absolved of the part of my heart that has always belonged to you.

That’s not the case. Instead, that stoic and resolute chamber has become a library of lessons. As time goes on, I’ll dust them off and pull them out, leaf through their handwritten pages, on days when I feel like it was all for nothing, and during times when I need reminding of how good those years with you were — good for my growth, as a human and as a soul.

I run my finger along the spines of these well-read books. There are all the pivotal titles: “Communication is Key;” “You Get the Love You Think You Deserve;” “To Give of Yourself, You Must First be Full and Overflow.” 

All the classics.

But looking back, there are some other things that I learned from loving you. Things that, in their nuance, have become the dog-eared chapters I cherish most. 

1. I’ve learned that the promises we make don’t matter; it’s how we make those promises. A midnight drive to my house to meet and solve an argument –— that’s more of a promise than three apologetic paragraphs in my inbox. A whispered pledge, a ring, a social announcement: what do these mean compared to the way your voice lifts when you greet me good morning, and the softness at the corners of your eyes when we say goodnight? Your hand on my back as we cross a street; your attentive, invested silence as I hash out the workings of my troubled mind; your presence at occasions where I need support. These are the promises you make that matter.

2. I’ve learned that we can collect people in scents and in sounds. You’d better believe there are artists, albums, playlists, that I can no longer listen to. Songs we earmarked for the first dance at our wedding, others that were playing in coffee shops or nightclubs where we shared nervous touches and first intimacies. And there are some songs I will play purposely, digging into that space in my mind where the memory throbs, still raw. Sometimes when I’m out shopping, I’ll reach for that frosted bottle with the silver text and turn the perfume aisle into our high school hallway. Suddenly, I’m leaning against my locker, chewing my hair; and there you are, in your ironic, adolescent grace. It makes me weak in the knees. I feel a lump in my throat. And then I smile. I can, finally, replace the bottle cap, skip to the next song. 

3. I’ve learned that affection is a language, and to become fluent you need to practice. There is an art in reading expressions, noticing tones of voice, reacting to the length of a sentence… and responding with the question of a perfectly placed hand, the phrase of a grateful kiss, the soothing ellipsis of a much-needed neck massage. This language of our bodies and gestures is the undercurrent beneath the surface of verbal communication; it is the radiowave carrying our words from heart to heart. I learned that when you tune in to that signal, you can become fluent in each other. 

4. Above all, I’ve learned that I have learned. You have been my teacher. Sometimes you were bossy, sometimes passive-aggressive. Sometimes I had to drag the solutions out of questions you never asked; sometimes the lessons were the questions themselves. Navigating through the volumes of our relationship wasn’t always easy, but now I know I have taken what I can from every experience we shared — and from the aftermath of our separation — and am wiser for it. Just like the music really hits you in the silence after the last notes, or the story shakes you to your bones after the endpapers fall across your fingers, the impact of what you taught me resonates with me now that I am full, alone, and whole. TC mark

featured image – ►►haley / Flickr



Confessions Of Someone With Peter Pan Syndrome

I’m at that point in my life where everyone I know is dating someone and I’m over here contemplating whether or not it would be illegal to marry wine.

It’s like going fishing with all your friends and one by one, they all catch something, some are impressive, some are just meh, but either way, they catch something. Turns out, if I don’t truly want a fish, it’s going to be even harder for me to catch something, especially since I am by ZERO means a natural fisherman. The fact of the matter is, fishing is hard. It takes time and patience, there’s a technique, and an art to it even, but you didn’t really want to go fishing in the first place so now you are stuck holding your pole halfheartedly hoping to catch something just so that they won’t all take selfies with their fish together, without you.

I have this serious FOMO nagging at me all the time. I’m trying to smile and be happy for everyone but I’m actually chipping away inside knowing that this is the first step where everyone starts leaving you behind. My dad was always paranoid that it was going to happen in middle school with algebra.

Everyone is figuring their life out and I’m just trying to cling to my youth as much as I can. I am straight up Peter Pan status at this point. I swear if I watched this movie now I would pretty much be bawling the entire time. I know I don’t want to be in a relationship right now. The mere thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies because we’re at that age where people are starting to get “serious” about their lives. Not just with their significant others, but also in their jobs, and their hobbies.

I don’t have my life figured out and I shouldn’t feel the pressure to. It’s not like I’m a mess that’s falling apart at the seams, I just don’t have a specific plan. Moreover, I don’t want a plan. I think it’s silly to think that my life is going to turn out a certain way just because I say it will.

There’s definitely a slippery slope of adulthood. These people are going to start hanging out with more people that have their crap figured out, because they’ll be able to relate to them. You know, they’ll be able to talk to each other about their mortgages and health insurance and last night’s episode of the West Wing. And I’m still going to be watching Phineas and Ferb in my robot onesie talking about Hilary Duff’s new album (true story.) They are going to start talking about their weddings together and how their kids are driving them crazy while I end up buying Scooby Doo fruit snacks in bulk and binge watching sitcoms while being forced to babysit so that they can have “just one night of freedom.” Ironically, with every additional time I watch all ten seasons of Friends, the fewer I may have in real life. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t board this “adulthood” train I’m going to end up getting the short end of the stick a lot.

It happened with drinking. In college I didn’t drink until I was 21. It was a personal choice and I’m glad I did because it proved to me that I had some manner of self-control in my life. But that meant for the first 3 years I was watching everybody go shopping for an outfit, or do each other’s hair and makeup, or take group pictures looking gorgeous and maybe one pity picture with me in my Christmas old navy pajama bottoms in any given season. It’s even worse when I decided to go. I usually ended up being sober sister who gets to hold everyone’s hair back and take pictures of people all night long while having to deal with people who think that you are judging them for being drunk. I felt obligated to go to clubs or parties even though that “wasn’t my scene” at the time. It was either go to the party, or not be able to relate to your friends. This is an exceptionally tough thing for a very extraverted person to make — by the way. I couldn’t count the number of times I felt like everyone was hanging out without me and eventually gave up. I had to get on the bandwagon otherwise it would speed off without me.

To this day, my biggest fear isn’t that everyone’s going to start going to symphonies together and I’m going to end up at a Ke$ha concert alone — but rather that I end up going to symphonies and never buy that Ke$ha concert ticket in the first place.

I don’t want to abandon my youth at the expense of not being able to relate to my friends. It seems like a pretty unfair trade.

It’s definitely cool to be classy sometimes. Like be able to go to brunch and ordering mimosas. Or eat artisan cheeses and crackers from whole foods. My fear is the one day when doing things like that stops being special. When you do “grown up things” so often that it stops being a novelty and just integrated into your life.

I feel like the opposite happens to people who think they are grown-ups. One day they wake up and they do something that reminds them of their youth and they feel special. Like they’ll go see Tangled in theaters and then be like “haha, hashtag still a child.” I would rather be a child that does grown up things every so often, than a grown up that does childish things. The latter just seems way more sad and depressing than the other.

I just don’t like the idea of this unspoken social pressure to grow up. I shouldn’t be forced to do things just because all of my friends are doing them. And I know what people say, find better friends. The thing is I love my friends. More than anything. They are actually great and would never consciously make the decision to leave me behind, I just feel like it’s a natural part of life. There’s always the idea that one day people are going to look down on me for not having a clue what I’m doing with my life. I just know that the only thing you can count on is things not going according to plan, so it just doesn’t make sense for me to bother with one. Getting “serious” and “buckling down” for some reason seems like the most immature decision a person can make. One day a cup of coffee is going to spill all over that plan and it’s going to be the most difficult thing to ever deal with. As Jodi Picoult once said, “There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations.”

I know I’m being dramatic. I know my friends are not going to abandon me. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is all the first step — the tipping point- so to speak, and I’m just not ready to admit what this really all could really mean — that I, once again, will be the shining example of an extroverted only child with nobody to play scrabble with. Compromising my youth just doesn’t seem like something I’m prepared for and I struggle with the concept that everyone one around me is eager to make that sacrifice already. TC mark

featured image – Scarleth Marie



6 Zen Lessons From Your Kids

They say kids are your greatest teachers. But it’s not about quadratic equations, it’s about finding out how your own issues and pain create problems for those closest to you. And then hopefully, stopping the vicious cycle.

1. You are not entitled to any respect as a parent.

Most of us grew up under the auspices of ‘respect your elders’ for no good reason other than they were elders. You know — those people who make you do what you don’t want to do, those people who ignore your needs and those people who belittle your emotions. If you think that you ‘deserve’ respect from your children, then by definition, you are one of those people. That’s because feeling entitled to respect means you believe you are somehow innately superior and treat others as inferior. Just in case you didn’t get it, you are not superior.

Admiration is different; it is generated from free will and has nothing to do with any perceived superiority. It also fluctuates a lot for children. Today’s merited admiration maybe tomorrow’s dislike. That’s because children live in the present, which means they don’t hold grudges but neither do they recognize our manufactured concepts of ‘esteem and debt’. As for respect, you’re not entitled to it, now or ever. Try and force the issue and what you’ll get is brainwashed fear-ridden obedience, or anger and rebellion (or both).

South Park
South Park

Some people get awfully cross when you don’t respect their authoritah.

2. Your children have every right to be angry and upset for reasons you consider bullshit.

Perfectly logical adult acts and consequences — brushing your child’s teeth so that they don’t get cavities, wearing a thick coat when it’s minus 5 outside, or trying to get them to wee in the toilet instead of their knickers — will make them angry and upset. In their world they see that you have power to control even their most intimate decisions, and they can grow rather angry about this. You would be too. In fact you probably were, but you don’t remember it.

If you then get angry about it, your problem is that you need to be right (you consider that your anger is apparently valid, theirs is not). Let it go. Their emotions are perfectly valid – they are operating according to their survival instincts (indeed there would be something wrong if they weren’t getting angry and afraid that they are being controlled). If you tell them ‘there’s no reason to be angry’ they hear ‘it’s not okay to feel what I feel, and my feelings are not important.’  This leads to a fear of conflict in adulthood because anger is ‘wrong’.

Yes it’s a tantrum because it IS their end of the world. Be the bigger person (you are after all). Which leads to…

3. Punishment through isolation, means you also have control issues.

Do you walk away when your child is angry? Do you punish them by saying ‘go to your room’ (like most parents did)? The reason parents walk away is most often because they can’t win (and that pisses them off). But they can ‘win’ by making their children sad. You can punish them and try to get your will through by isolating them. Not only are you showing that their anger is not valid, but you are trying to ‘control’ the situation by withdrawing your love.

Children perceive that you love them conditionally (because that’s what you’re showing).  The person they depend on for survival is taking away their love and support. If you aren’t seething and seeing (literally) red from them wiping their raspberry dipped fingers on your new white sofa … let them know that you are angry at what they did, not at them. If you need to calm down, tell them that and that you love them. If you withdraw too often it leads to a fear of abandonment and fear of conflict (see point 2).

Also, never buy a white sofa if you have kids. It means you’re a perfectionist and control freak.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

This is not a white sofa. It’s a red warning flag.

4. Time is an artificial concept which is unimportant. Your child knows this, but you have forgotten.

If you haven’t yet realized the unimportance of time, you are probably hurrying your child to school, hurrying them home, hurrying them on the train operating according to an artificial schedule and trying to force your family into a rigidly controlled system. Ours. The one we built.

It’s not really your fault. It’s what you’ve been taught. Being late is obviously a sign of disorganization and disrespect which is something you – as an adult – are entitled to (see above). But perhaps your child likes to spend time looking at flowers on the way to her school (where it is the end of the world as we know it, if they are not there at 9 sharp). Minutes seem like hours when you have some place to be. And yet, if you let the natural curiosity of life unfold without an agenda, it can be joyful for both of you.

If you are bound by time you might remember that this is not of your child’s own making. She is not at fault. Make time to walk so that you can have those joyous world-exploring times (and try not to suddenly remember something terribly important you should be doing instead – this is driven by your own fear of doing something so completely alien as ignoring time).

5. The Journey is more Important than the Outcome

You think that sticking those scribbles with magnets onto your fridge shows your child how proud you are of their Picasso-like inclinations. It doesn’t.

They don’t care about it, because their pleasure was in the doing. As we cling or worse, frame our favourite documentation of our children’s achievements so we teach them that the outcome is more important than the journey. The result is more important than the effort expended, the pleasure experienced and the time sacrificed.

A whole generation of corporate executives are going through mid-life crisis right now because the next promotion doesn’t satisfy them (clue it was never for them, it is for you). Outcomes temporarily please. But they do little fill the void of insecurity created by our great parenting (and our parents great parenting). Which means you should…

6. Value People for who They Are not What they Do (for you)

Are your proud of your Violet Beauregarde? Do you express your love through encouragement and praise for her accomplishments? Would you love her even if she wasn’t the world record holder for gum chewing? Oh you would? Chances are, she doesn’t know that though…

If you show your child that you value her achievements without making it clear that you also value her as a person, she will understand that to earn your love she has to achieve. Worse still, you don’t even have to criticize her, for her to know that if she doesn’t achieve, the love might be withdrawn. That’s because our minds are responsible for conceptualizing danger before it actually happens. Most people don’t need to be squashed by a truck to realize that it would in fact, hurt.

We most often speak about what our kids do, not who they are. What did you do at school today? What a lovely painting! Well done for finishing your dinner. They will link their sense of self-worth to their achievements…and turn into workaholics not able to ever achieve enough to gain any sense of self worth, or drifters who don’t even start because the challenge is too impossible.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Mummy bought me this pink tracksuit because she sees me as an extension of herself (when I win). TC mark