Tag Archives: shopping

Make It Through Thanksgiving and Black Friday With These Meditations

The holiday season is a great time to spend with family and relax – but all of those people can get you kind of tense. Anxiety can also rise if you are planning to battle the behemoth crowds fighting for the best deals come Friday morning (Or is it Thursday night now? Thanksgiving is being attacked by consumerism). In times like these it is best to keep calm (and carry on!). We at Intent want you to enjoy this holiday and to help you not sweat the small stuff. So start your day off right with a guided meditation to help you start off centered and prepared for whatever comes your way.

This one is lead by Mallika Chopra:

Or maybe Deepak is more your style:

Note: There’s still time to join the Deepak & Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation for November. It’s completely free to sign up and could definitely come in handy over the long weekend! And if you want more “The Meditator” videos you can check them out on YouTube here.

If you find yourself getting worked up in the moment and don’t have five minutes to calm yourself with a mediation video or today’s challenge guided meditation, try this tip from Gabby Bernstein. Press your thumbs on both hands to the pads of each of your other fingers as you repeat, “Peace begins with me.” Remember to breathe. Say it as many times as you need until you find yourself centered again.

As a last resort just remember that soon there are going to be so many left overs, and pie. Pie makes everything better. Happy holidays!

Why You’re Perfect Just The Way You Are.

shutterstock_123704254Less than two years ago, I was lucky enough to be living in walking distance to a Barnes and Noble. Somehow I would always find myself attracted like a magnet to the often shamed and typically avoided self-improvement aisle. My friends used to joke that my walking into my then-favorite section was like an alcoholic walking into a liquor store: I would literally go through book by book for hours on end, searching for some hidden secret that I thought might help me do a little better at this whole thing called life. These were my “self-help” binges, and I would exit those aisles more utterly confused than when I walked into them. Still, upon first whiff of that delicious Barnes and Noble scent, I was unable to stop myself from going back for more.

I must be missing some kind of guidebook everyone got when they were born, I would think to myself as I scanned each book in my favorite section. If only I could find the answer somewhere in one of these books, I would have it all figured out.

I came across many-a-book that would instruct me to love myself unconditionally, and I was told that if I could just give myself unconditional love and gentleness, I would have the peace I was looking for. I would repeatedly fail to understand what that meant and assume this implied I was failing life in general, only to love myself a little less as I sadly trudged away from the self-help section.

I would search and search, and I would find nothing I didn’t already know or nothing that could really give me what I wanted. Why? Because what I wanted was to be accepted just as I was, not if only I could love myself. This could only come from me, not from “passing” the exam called “life” with flying colors because I spent my whole life in the self help section of the book store and got all the answers down.

Although I’m slightly sober of my self-help section habit (okay, I did make one trip there the other day) I’m still finding I’m walking away from many a “spiritually minded” article or magazine with the same feeling of inadequacy I used to get from reading Cosmopolitan, or hanging out in that darn aisle of the book store. No, I don’t feel like my abs are too flabby or like I don’t have enough sex appeal, but I do feel a little bit like I’m “not spiritual enough” or like my limited kale intake doesn’t grant me access to some kind of higher plane of living.

So let me just say, I’m deciding there aren’t any rules. I’m deciding I’m good enough right where I am (and I get to decide that every single day.) In a world filled with rules and instructions for how to let go of rules and instructions, I am always granted the choice to accept myself, warts and all. No matter what I might be struggling to quit, hang onto, or pick up, I can embrace myself right where I’m at, well before I get to whatever final destination I’m heading toward.

After all, I may never “arrive” there anyways. I might as well enjoy the ride.


For more, check out my website, The Light Files, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Do You Fall Prey to These 4 Types of Impulse Purchases?


When we’re trying to change our buying  habits, one challenge is that marketers are so clever at enticing us into making impulse purchases.

In David Lewis’s book Impulse: Why We Do What We Do Without Knowing Why We Do It, he provides a list of the four main types of impulse buys, developed by industrial economist Hawkins Stern in 1962.

Do you recognize any of these categories in your own purchasing patterns?

1. Pure impulse buying — you make a true novelty purchase, or escape purchase, that’s very different from your typical purchasing pattern

2. Reminder impulse buying — you see an item or remember something that reminds you that you need an item

3. Suggestion impulse buying– you see a product for the first time and imagine a need for it

4. Planned impulse buying — (isn’t this label an oxymoron? oh well) you make a purchase based on price specials, coupons, etc.

Now, I know that some folks out there are my fellow under-buyers, and we have to force ourselves to make impulse purchases of the #2 sort. Even when I know I need something, I hate to buy it!

Interestingly, Lewis notes that people generally don’t consider it a mistake to make impulse purchases. Research suggests that only about 1 in 5 people regret it, and 2 out of 5 say they feel good about it. (If you don’t feel good about it, here are 5 tips to resist impulse shopping.)

If you battle impulse purchasing, what category gives you the most trouble? How do you combat it? Of course, we’re always told to shop with a list–and seeing these four categories makes it clear why that’s helpful in fighting impulsive spending.


  • If you’re a fan of good order, you’ll be so satisfied by a visit to Things Organized Neatly on Tumblr.  Beautiful, beautiful order. One thing that has surprised me about happiness: the extent to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.
  •  I’ve heard from many real-estate agents who are giving Happier at Home to their clients. If you’d like personalized, signed “Tips for Happiness in Your New Home” cards to go with the books, or signed, personalized bookplates, request them here. But you don’t have to be a real-estate agent to ask! Ask one for yourself or for friends. (I can mail to U.S. and Canada only, alas).

6 Strategies to Develop More Self-Control

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 1.19.45 PMIt’s harder than ever to exert self-control, as gratification is just a click away. Moreover, in a world of selfies, Twitter, and Facebook the spotlight is on you. Becoming a celebrity online, you want to live like one. Entitlement gets in the way of reigning in impulses for simple pleasures like: Eating, drinking, shopping and skipping work. Then after the excess, the many shades of conscience set in. Packing on the pounds or being steeped in debt is no fun even for celebrities.

Self-control means understanding the difference between reacting and responding. However, how do you get more self-control when confronted with habitual temptation-gratification during moments of stress?

Ask yourself the basic question: What emotion is the trigger for this self-indulgence? Am I angry, dissatisfied, sad, or resentful? Once you are aware of the emotion behind the lack of self-control, you can address it at the root level to change dissatisfaction into satisfaction. Don’t swallow your feelings or they will swallow you up. Communicate your hurt or stressor – first to yourself by naming and delineating it and then when appropriate to others.

Here are 6 strategies to stabilize your impulses:

1. Keep your eye on the big prize – what will you get from all this self-control? Think about the long range goal: Is it losing weight because you want to be healthier? Is it doing better in school to get a good job? Is it getting out of debt and improving your credit rating to buy a home?

2. See the positive side of your impulse-gratification and strengthen the good – it’s always easier to build on a strength. For example, if you are overeating, you might be hungry for love and acceptance or yearning for spirituality to try to reduce the stress of loneliness. Brainstorm ways to reduce stress and start volunteering to help others in a cause you believe in. You will see yourself benevolently reflected in the eyes of the people you help.

3. Get educated regarding your strategy. If it is weight loss, then read about nutrition and portion control. You might get an “Aha” moment regarding your eating habits.

4. Get structured, so you don’t let your mind romp around aimlessly until it lands on an impulse. Schedule your day.

5. Don’t suppress the impulse. Confront the temptation and remind yourself that the discomfort of not acting on it will pass. Each time you do not act on impulse gratification, the discomfort time will shorten.

6. Exercise! Exercising self-control is effectively reinforced with physical activity. Exercise makes you feel empowered, self-confident and happy. Exercise releases healthy endorphins which will lift you up and move you past your impulse.

2 Rules to De-Clutter and Get Creative with Your Clothes

Rubbermaid Homefree Series Closet Kit 3P40Most of us probably wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time because we play favorites. However, we continue shopping and spending money that we could have used more wisely or saved. For many people a cluttered closet becomes a symbol of a cluttered mind. Moreover, an overcrowded closet demonstrates that we are overly concerned with what others think: “Oh, everyone will remember that I wore this outfit last week.” To this worry I respond, “I hope they remember me, how kind I was, or what I said, not what I wore.”

When I asked people why they don’t get rid of excess clothes, here are popular responses:

* I paid a lot of money for this outfit

* It was on sale

* I have my fat clothes and my skinny clothes

* This outfit symbolizes a special day in my life, so I can’t give it away

* I got it as a gift

* I will have a future occasion to wear it

If your item’s best attribute is that it was an irresistible sale, you might want to reconsider the purchase. I have found two rules which prevent my own impulsive purchases:

1. If I think I just have to buy it, I ask the sales person to put it on hold and then return in a day or two to try on the merchandise again. Most often I lose my enthusiasm for the purchase and decide NOT to spend the money. This makes me feel empowered and in control.

2. I imagine myself in a school uniform or doctor’s scrubs or a nurse’s uniform. In other words, I can wear the same clothes every day. Guess what? I usually end up wearing jeans or black pants with different tops.  Black serves as a great base to build.

Stress management is all about perception. When the seasons change, I put away some knick-knacks, bring back a few old ones, and rotate others around the house. Therefore what’s tired becomes stimulating and fresh. I even change where I sit at the kitchen table to see things from a different perspective. Similarly, in your own closet you can change your perception about your old clothes to see them in a fresh light, clearly no need to purchase when you possess the creativity. Try wearing an old outfit differently by belting, shortening, accessorizing or changing buttons – the way you change cabinet handles to achieve a totally different look.

Cleaning out your closet is cathartic. Keep it simple.

Buy Nothing Day

The U.S. economy is suffering. The world economy is suffering. Why? Largely because our government, corporations and citizens have been in a spend-don’t-save mindset. Meanwhile, people all over the world are starving — lacking for food, water and shelter. And our planet is suffering — as we pollute it and use up its natural resources.

So what’s the solution? Buy Nothing Day!
The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday — the busiest shopping day of the year. Adbusters invites you to join them in boycotting the shopping frenzy.
Just think of all the time you’ll save — not to mention money and environmental resources.
As Adbusters explains,
As the planet starts heating up, maybe it’s time to finally go cold turkey. Take the personal challenge by locking up your debit card, your credit cards, your money clip, and see what it feels like to opt out of consumer culture completely, even if only for 24 hours. Like the millions of people who have done this fast before you, you may be rewarded with a life-changing epiphany. While you’re at it, what better time to point out real alternatives to unbridled consumption – and the climate uncertainty that it entails – by taking your BND spirit to the streets?
Buy Nothing Day events are taking place all over the world — find one near you!
So, how will you spend the day?

Photo via AdBusters

Originally published in 2008

Regardless, Don’t Reject His Valentine’s Day Gift

Most men dread buying their woman a gift – She will not like it, or she will pretend to like it and hang it away in her closet, never to surface again. This is why men often procrastinate until the last minute and end up with the generic or outlandish because they fear rejection.

This Valentine’s Day take the high road, act loving and accept his offering whole heartedly. A man is not a mind reader and besides according to associate professor Nelson Barber of the University of New Hampshire  men hate shopping, consulting with sales personnel (it’s like asking for directions) and usually focus on two extremes when purchasing a gift for her: Practicality versus the wow factor. They might overspend to please a woman with pricey jewelry because of all those commercials which began with Marilyn Monroe claiming that diamonds are a girl’s best friend and diamonds are forever. Aren’t many of us still paying off our Christmas gifts and isn’t the price of gas going up?

The problem stems from the premise that most women enjoying shopping – a distraction and a high. Women invest thought and time as they consult with girlfriends, sales personnel and magazines to find THE gift which will resonate physically, emotionally and symbolically for him.  They interpret clues and read between his lines to find this treasure. Consequently, they expect the same consideration in return. They judge his gift according to female standards.

But men are different and it is most unfair to expect him to be a clone. Women need to revive the hidden girl within who is spontaneous, joyous and doesn’t keep score. This way the girl in you will recognize the boy in him and appreciate his “cute,” “sweet,” and loving gift.

This Valentine’s Day give the gift of approval.  Consider that If a little boy made or bought it for you, you would express your delight whether it means eating a lopsided chocolate cupcake or wearing a team tee shirt.  Go ahead and respond with love – regardless of what you get! Reframe a photo of the two of you and at the same time reframe your relationship.


I Like Companies That Make Me a Better Person (the smart companies know this)

 In the last four days that I’ve been back in the states I’ve had to pay for bags three times (at CVS, Ikea and Trader Joe’s). It’s a surprising and welcome development, particularly as I’m not in California or Boulder, but in Washington, D.C.

My reaction to the pay-for-bag-system has also evolved in step with consumer and business attitudes. I remember being charged for bags five years ago at Ikea (this time in California, after another move) and feeling indignant. How could the store charge me, a customer, for a bag to carry what I had just paid them for? Of course, later I settled into the routine of bringing reusable bags to the store with me when it wasn’t needed. And it became a point of pride, a small, visible signal to myself that I was being responsible. The stores neither encouraged my actions nor rewarded them.

But now that’s changing.  Trader Joe’s charges 5 cents per bag and credits you 5 cents for every bag you bring. As my better-late-than-never-sustainability-practicing husband pointed out, “That’s a 10-cent cost for every paper bag you use.”  CVS sells Greenbagtags to attach to any reusable bag for 99 cents and rewards you with a $1 credit every fourth time you use your bag. Each tag sold also triggers a 5 cent donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

So why are companies getting in the game?  Is it saving on bags? Customer loyalty (e.g., CVS’ Greenbagtag program)? Public image? Market relevance? Each factor in itself is reason enough because there’s adequate social proof to enforce the practice of reusable bags, which means that customers are less likely to view this restriction as negative. But what about Ikea five years ago? Surely I wasn’t the only customer irked I had to pay for bags.  What was the value of the risk for Ikea?

The value is in what the company stands for: less waste, sustainable sourcing and labor (as well as inexpensive well-designed products).  Last month, Ikea announced that by January it will no longer sell lights that use incandescent bulbs.  That’s also a brazen step sure to bug some consumers.  Five years down the road, however, it will likely seem de riggueur as consumers reap the financial savings of energy-efficient lighting.

In a market that is so consumer driven, it’s exciting to see companies influencing consumer behavior for the better.  And it’s a good business strategy. When Nike makes a product that gets me running more and Ikea improves the way I light my home, I am grateful (and a loyal, evangelizing consumer).


Zen and the Art of Grocery Shopping

It happens at least once a week, the ritual trek to the local grocery store.  We need food, we need supplies, we are creatures whose needs must be met, and this is how we do it.  It’s more convenient than growing our own vegetables, or baking our own bread.  And although we may not get the same satisfaction that our ancestors did by working the land, we are in a sense doing our own harvesting by what we choose, and how we shop, at the supermarket.

Here are some ways that we can get the most out of the experience, and turn what could possibly be mundane into something rather special and spiritual.  This is how we can “bloom where we are planted” even if that happens to be in the middle of suburbia.

Bring your own bags.  This seems like such a simple thing to do, and yet when you look around at the other shoppers, how many people actually do it?  In Europe there is not the option of “paper or plastic.”  You bring your own bag or you carry your purchases out in your arms.  We did an informal survey recently in front of our neighborhood market, and found that although most people thought this was a good idea, they hadn’t gotten themselves in the habit.  Make this conscious choice.  Carry your bags in your car so they are there for you when you need them.  It’s one little contribution towards making the world a better place.

After you park, if you see a stray cart in the lot, take it with you into the store.  Many carts are left loose in the parking lot only to bump into cars, or block the way as someone is trying to open their car door.  Returning a cart is being a good citizen, and also setting a good example.

Many stores have now been kind enough to provide anti-bacterial wipes at their entries so that we can wipe down the handle of the cart.  Use them to protect yourself and others from germs that are easily passed around in public places.  And when you’re done with the wipe, dispose of it carefully in the container provided.

When shopping for produce, choose fruits and vegetables that are locally grown.  Shipping from far-away places puts a burden on the planet by requiring extra fuel to get items where they need to be.  Also, be aware of packaging.  Again, re-use bags from home, or don’t bother to use bags at all when selecting your produce.  Select one thing that you might not have tried before – open yourself up to new culinary possibilities!

Consider your time in the market as an opportunity to practice present-moment awareness.  Be fully present when choosing your items.  Smile at the people sharing this experience with you.  This is a community, and you are an important part of it.  Be grateful for the store employees who work so hard to keep the place neat and orderly so that you can find what you are looking for.  Marvel at the abundance of choices that we have before us.

Think about the many ways that you can be a conscientious consumer.  Rather than buying paper napkins, use cloth napkins at the table for dinner.  Rather than using paper towels to clean, use dish-cloths, and rags.  Rather than using cleaning products with chemicals, investigate the many natural alternatives, such as vinegar, that can be used just as efficiently with less impact on the planet. Take lunch boxes, or cloth lunch bags, to work or school instead of using paper lunch bags.  These are all the little things that end up making a big difference.  Consciously participate in green living.

Read labels to know what you are putting into your body.  There are so many options now, so check the shelves for products that are lower in sugar, sodium, and fat.  Opt for healthier alternatives, like whole grains, and higher fiber cereals. 


More and more people are deciding on a vegetarian, or even vegan, lifestyle.  Even if you don’t want to commit all the way, try going meat-free at least one day a week.

If you have a full cart of groceries and someone behind you in line has just one or two items, practice kindness by offering to let them go ahead of you.  If someone ahead of you is having trouble getting credit approval, or is taking a long time to write out a check, this is an opportunity to practice patience and compassion.

When checking out, have your discount cards or coupons ready so as not to keep the people behind you in line waiting longer than necessary.  Make sure to present your bags to the bag-person before he or she starts to pack.  If there is no one helping the cashier to bag the groceries, pitch in and help yourself.  Always show gratitude for the help you were given by expressing thanks.

And, of course, after you take the bags out of your cart and put them into your car, return the cart to the store rather than leaving it loose in the parking lot.

Everything in life, every moment we live, can be a meditation, a learning experience. With this state of mind, we can turn something like grocery shopping, which we might have thought of as a chore, into an adventure.




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