The first two years of a relationship are usually considered the most exciting. After that, according to psychotherapist and author M. Gary Neuman, couples have to work to maintain that initial level of intimacy and excitement.
Neuman conducted a research experiment with 400 women who were either happily or unhappily married to find out how much sex happy couples should have every month.
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If you feel a twinge of jealousy each time you read about another successful person who wakes up at 4 a.m. to meditate, jog, read a novel, and eat two grapefruits, take heart.
You don't have to add three leisurely hours to your morning routine to be happy or productive.
In fact, plenty of the habits that can help you start your day take five minutes or less.
Several of those habits are listed under the Quora thread, "What can I do in 5 minutes in the morning to make my whole day better?"
Below, find some of the simplest routines to start your day feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way.
1. Write down three things you're grateful for
Quora user Nela Canovic suggests writing down three things you're grateful for every morning.
"Think about what you already have in your life," she writes. "Don't focus only on material things (such as a car or computer), but rather think in more simple or basic terms." For example, you might express gratitude for friends, family, or your education.
This strategy is similar to the "three good things" exercise recommended by Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the founders of the positive psychology movement.
Seligman and colleagues advise people to take time each night to write down three positive developments that happened that day, along with an explanation for why they did. You can, however, easily adapt this exercise for the morning and think about three things you're grateful for in general.
2. Think about what would make today great
Canovic recommends another, more prospective exercise: "Write one sentence about something that, if it were to happen, would make you feel like today will be a positive, productive, unique day."
It can be something as simple as going to bed before midnight or spending an hour doing something you love, she says.
Once you figure out exactly what would make you feel happy and accomplished, you can go about making it happen.
But meditation doesn't necessarily mean sitting in silence for hours on end. As Ariel Banayan points out, "sitting for five minutes to detach from the thoughts of your mind will have a profound impact on your day."
If you're unsure how to get started, the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center offers some free guided meditations, some of them five minutes or shorter.
Minh Killy Le recommends five minutes of exercise right after you wake up. His favorite is planking, which is similar to a push-up.
Research suggests that working out before you eat breakfast can help you lose weight and boost your energy levels — though the workouts in these studies lasted about an hour, or until the participants had burned 400 calories.
Regardless of how long you choose to exercise, be sure to warm up beforehand, since your muscles will likely be stiff from sleep.
5. Make your bed
Raviteja Chirala says he loves coming home to a neatly made bed.
Meanwhile, journalist Charles Duhigg writes in his book "The Power of Habit" that making your bed can help increase your productivity for the rest of the day. That's because it's a "keystone habit" that can "spark chain reactions that help other good habits take hold."
Chirala also suggests writing a list of things you want to accomplish that day. That way, you'll have a clear set of priorities to guide your work for the next few hours.
Psychologist Travis Bradberry says this kind of careful planning boosts your chances of achieving your goals. He personally likes to set his daily goals after his mindfulness practice.
7. Visualize the rest of the day
Harrison Thorne recommends a morning visualization routine: "Simply picture your short- and long-term goals, and affirm your abilities to complete these goals."
In his second book, "Smarter Faster Better," Duhigg outlines a similar technique: Tell yourself stories about how the day will unfold.
Duhigg writes about researchers at MIT who studied the most productive people at a recruiting firm and found that they were "obsessive, in fact, about trying to explain the world to themselves and their colleagues as they went about their days." For example, they might ask colleagues to help them imagine how a future conversation or a pitch meeting might go, so that they were more prepared when the events actually happened.
He recommends making a habit of this strategy by spending your morning commute telling yourself a detailed story about the rest of the day.
8. Use the 'Five Minute Journal'
Chris Remus recommends using the "Five Minute Journal," which is a specific journal that comes with inspirational quotes and thought-provoking questions: "You'll feel more positive and happier when you use it. Your whole day will be better as a result."
Author, investor, and podcaster Tim Ferriss says he uses the Five Minute Journal every morning. As Business Insider's Richard Feloni has reported, you can order the journal online.
9. Drink warm water with lemon juice
Kelin Doan drinks freshly squeezed lemon juice with warm water every morning.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, lemon water has multiple benefits, including aiding digestion and supplying vitamin C, which protects you from cell damage.
10. Don't check your phone
This one's more of a non-routine. Matt Sandrini advises against picking up your smartphone within the first five minutes of waking up: "You start working on someone else's behalf, before you even had the chance to set your own schedule and priorities for your day."
"Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless," she said.
In fact, she recommends holding off for a full hour. "There is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes."
College professors dole out an incredible amount of required reading to their students.
But what if they could only choose one book?
When asked, professors at America's most prestigious colleges — those in the top 10, according to US News & World Report — shared with Business Insider the single book they think every student should read in 2017.
The topics of the books spanned issues from politics to social science to Shakespearean literature.
Read on to see what professors from schools like Princeton, Harvard, and Yale think you should read next year.
Jill Abramson, Harvard: 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics,' by Richard Hofstadter
Abramson, a former executive editor of The New York Times and current Harvard English lecturer, recommends students read Richard Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," first published in 1964.
Abramson says the book is "everything you need to know about the root of Donald Trump's rhetoric and fake news."
James Berger, Yale: 'Orfeo,' by Richard Powers
He implores students to read the book, explaining that:
"It is a story of music and genetics in our contemporary age of terror and surveillance. An idiosyncratic retelling of the Orpheus myth, an elderly avant garde composer who feels he has tried and exhausted every possible musical experiment, returns to his first love, biology, and seeks to inscribe a musical score onto the mutating DNA of bacteria. Yup.
"But his efforts are mistaken to be acts of bioterrorism, and so he flees into the 'underworld' of contemporary America, returning also to the various Euridices of his past. Amazing book —and you'll learn a hell of a lot about music, science, politics ... and even about Life!"
Eric Maskin, Harvard, and Maurice Schweitzer, UPenn: 'The Undoing Project,' by Michael Lewis
Eric Maskin is a Harvard professor and received the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Maurice Schweitzer is a professor of operations, information, and decisions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Both chose Michael Lewis' "The Undoing Project."
Read Business Insider's December interview with Lewis, in which he discusses the book, the American presidential election, and how Wall Street has changed in recent years.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Shortly after the birth of their first child over a decade ago, Chip and Joanna Gaines, now the stars of HGTV's hit home-renovation show "Fixer Upper," experienced a financial wake-up call when Chip was thrown in the county jail for about $2,500 in unpaid tickets.
The tickets were issued after neighbors complained that the couple's dogs were illegally roaming the street in front of their house, they write in their new book "The Magnolia Story." To pay Chip's $800 bail, Joanna had to empty the cash register and safe in her small retail shop. It was then that she realized they "were right on the edge of a real financial struggle." She promised to never let it happen again.
"I have a naturally conservative nature, and Chip and I were supposed to balance each other out, not concede to each other's strengths and weaknesses," Joanna wrote of the ordeal. "My strength is saving and being tight with the money, and I had not exercised that strength recently."
Now, Joanna fully recognizes the importance of an emergency fund — something she credits her parents for teaching her to value.
"I think for me, the best lesson is always having a nest egg on the side," she told Business Insider in a recent interview.
Chip disagrees, however.
"He laughs because I had a nest egg going into our marriage," Joanna said. "And then that nest egg ended up [going] into an investment, and then within six months I was like, 'Well, it would've been nice to have that nest egg right about now.'"
Still, Joanna said she's "always liked the idea of putting money aside." And she advises her clients to do the same when it comes to renovating a home.
"If you have a $20,000 budget, plan on spending $15,000 — $5,000 will be money that just magically appears that you're going to need," Joanna said. "Something’s going to happen, something’s going to go wrong. So I'm always thinking 'Hey if I have this much, I'm always going to want this over here, just in case.' But not Chip."
Chip says his parents taught him the exact opposite.
"They taught me to take that nest egg and throw that thing out the window, and go for it. You only live once — there will be plenty of time to sleep when you're dead," Chip told Business Insider. He then asked Joanna, "Do we have a nest egg?"
"I learned early on that if you have a nest egg, you can’t tell him about it, because it will be gone," Joanna said.
Watch Chip and Joanna discuss their different views on saving money in the video below:
If you haven't mastered some of the most essential life skills already, it may be time to take a different approach.
Whether you're looking to listen better or negotiate for a raise, here are some of the most surprising ways you can master 152 essential life skills.
It's a surprisingly simple yet underused concept: If you want to listen better, keep your mouth shut.
As Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel once said, "The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent."
Not only does thinking about what you're going to say next take your attention away from the speaker, but hijacking the conversation shows that you think you have something more important to say.
As Florida State psychologist Roy Baumeister details in his book "Willpower: The Greatest Human Strength," we all have a finite amount of willpower in a given day. The key to conserving it is to limit the number of decisions you have to make.
Startup founder Julie Sygiel, a very busy entrepreneur, follows in the footsteps of Mark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama by wearing a uniform every day.
"Almost everything in my closet is black, gray, or blue and every top goes with every bottom," she tells Business Insider. "The only question I ask myself when getting dressed is: 'Do I need fancy shoes today?' All of my sweaters and pants are versatile and can look casual or dressy, so my shoes are the key piece that determines the overall look.
"It's amazing how much quicker I get dressed in the morning, and it allows me to save more creative decision-making energy for important choices at the office."
Warren Buffett once said, "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no' to almost everything."
If you don't prioritize your time over others', you'll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Consumers often pay way more for products than what it costs to make them.
The reasons for high mark-up prices depend on the product. It could be that the item is in high demand or is difficult to make.
Here are 21 popular products with incredibly high mark-up prices.
Note: For this story, we looked at individual US brands, but price mark-ups are often similar for competing brands.
Regal Cinemas and AMC Theaters' popcorn
Wholesale price for a small popcorn:About $0.35
Price you pay:$6.50
HDMI cables at Best Buy
Wholesale price for a six-foot cable:$2.67
Price you pay:$20
Electronics stores often don’t make much profit off TVs and video game consoles. So to balance out the big items, most retailers mark up smaller items that many people use, like HDMI cables (which allow you to stream content from your laptop to a TV).
Cost to make an iPhone 6s Plus: $236
Price you pay: $749
As CNBC notes, the decreasing cost of many iPhone components and smartphone market dominance helps Apple's profitability from iPhones.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
A lamentable shift has happened in the last few decades: Watches have all but disappeared from men's wrists.
Once upon a time, a watch was essential, something men and women alike put on their wrists every morning and took off only at night before bed. It was a necessity, or else you wouldn't know the time of day, and you'd be late for all of your meetings.
As cellphones and, later, smartphones started becoming more common, the watch suddenly seemed old-fashioned.
Who needs a watch when you can just pull out your phone to check the time on a sleek digital display? Millennials probably never even got into the habit of wearing a watch, and for men, that's a shame.
Women are offered a myriad of wrist decorations to choose from, but a watch is the only accessory that a man can truly wear every day. You can build a collection, swap them out for different outfits, change straps to suit the occasion, and find one that's perfectly suited to you and your lifestyle.
It's your own signature piece — something that you wear so often that people end up identifying it with you. It's an outlet of expression you can use even when weighed down by a suit and tie or otherwise super-picky dress code. An item that you alone chose: a shorthand for your values as a person.
Even a smartwatch is better than no watch — though, depending on the model, it will send its own unique message. When you don't wear a watch, you're missing out on that opportunity.
On days I forget my watch, my outfit feels incomplete, like it's missing something. A watch can really tie it all together like a bow on a gift. Now, I'm no technological skeptic — I love my iPhone, I'm addicted to Spotify, and for me, Snapchat is less a social network than a hobby.
Still, a watch on the wrist holds tangible benefits for the wearer that go beyond telling the time. In fact, I rarely find myself looking down at my watch to actually find out what time it is. In 2016, it's more a constant reminder of time than a functional time-telling device.
More to the point, it reminds you that time is constantly moving and slipping away. Don't procrastinate, don't spend time on things you don't enjoy doing, and remember that time is limited — so you better get living and doing all those things you're planning to do. A smartphone just doesn't call this to mind in such an immediate or tangible way.
Those hour, minute, and second hands on your watch won't stop until it dies. Neither should you.
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The good thing about getting to read a lot of books for work is that I'm constantly challenged to rethink my conceptions of happiness, productivity, and success.
The bad thing is that one time a stack of said books collapsed on my desk neighbor.
Without a doubt, the books that moved me most this year focused on psychology and behavioral science — and as 2016 draws to a close, I'm reflecting on everything I learned.
Below, I've rounded up the most meaningful insights from all that reading.
Money isn't enough to motivate us to do good work
In "Payoff," Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely argues that human motivation is a lot more complex than we might be inclined to believe. Case in point: Pizza motivates employees to perform better in the long term than money.
Managers especially should look to harness the power of intrinsic motivation — or the desire to do a good job for the sake of doing a good job.
Emotions always matter
Harvard psychologist Susan David wrote "Emotional Agility" to help people reckon with — not suppress or pass judgment on — their most difficult emotions.
Instead of looking askance at feelings as fluffy, David says it's important to recognize that our feelings hold important information about our values and our potential. We can draw on that information to make important decisions related to our career and relationships.
Plain old practice doesn't make perfect
The concept of deliberate practice— working with a teacher on specific goals and constantly pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone — has sparked a ton of controversy within the scientific community.
In "Peak," Florida State University psychologist Anders Ericsson and journalist Robert Pool argue that this process is the only sure path to expertise, whether in chess, ice skating, or anything else. (Some psychologists disagree.)
To be sure, Ericsson says, deliberate practice involves mistakes and failure and pain, but if you truly want to be the best in your field, it's worth it.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
It's really hard to be funny. It's even harder to be funny and get paid for it. But the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff, has made a living making people laugh for decades. He says there are two main topics that are always funny and here's why.
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