Pillar To Post welcomes your comments and concerns. You can contact us: Click Here
Many Psychologists call it “emotional contagion.”
But you can think of it as Scroogeology or Grinchonomics.
Better yet, think of it as the woeful friend, the crabby boss, the depressed party guest whose moods are so melancholy that, despite your good cheer, they suck the joy from the season.
A growing body of psychological research is bearing out the unconscious power one individual’s mood can have on others. Fortunately, just as Bob Cratchit and Cindy Lou who refused to let Scrooge or the Grinch dampen their spirits, modern and age-old strategies can combat the draw of your own Debbie Downer.
Recent evidence is consistent.
The Journal of Applied Psychology reported that a group leader’s moods will rule, and negative moods will rule most. If a leader is up, some team members’ moods will also rise. But if he or she was down, everyone was down.
The idea is, you go to a holiday party with family, friends, or associates and you’re happy until you meet someone who’s down. The next thing you know, your positive mood no longer exists. You go off wondering, “What happened?”
Explanations abound. Positive moods are the norm, making negative moods stand out like an emaciated Santa. In the animal world, those that don’t instinctively notice and react to such warning signs do so at their own risk.
This contagion of fear and alarm is demonstrated in a flock of birds. One bird suddenly takes off. There is no time to wait and see what’s going on. All the other birds take off, too. Otherwise, they’re lunch.
In other words, getting caught up in another’s negativity is hard-wired, unconscious and powerful.
So it goes with the holiday killjoy. You can’t help noticing him, because that somberness stands out in contrast to your generally pleasant life. Before you know it, you’re drawn in and the only thought is, “I wish I could get out of here!”
Strategies exist. The key is awareness. If you realize, ‘This person is depressed. I’m catching his mood.” you can control it. The controls vary by person and situation. All of them come under the heading mood lifters: jogging, music, time with positive friends, the gym, shopping, movies, family, chocolate, eggnog.
Then there is this hopeful note. Spirit-sapping Negative Nellies are powerful, yes. But research suggests that the moods of people who feel their emotions intensely — whatever they may be — are also highly contagious.
In other words, in the presence of merry spirits, the Scrooges of this world don’t stand a chance.
Experts have done the math and found that some new gadgets can slash the cost of things that you and your family do every day. Trying just a few could save you extra dollars.
1. DRY CLOTHES 25% FASTER Toss a pair of eco-friendly dryer balls into the dryer and cut drying time dramatically. Each ball has rubber spikes that help lift and separate fabric, allowing air to flow more efficiently. Bonus! The plumping action also makes towels, sheets and T-shirts come out fluffy without the need for fabric softener and dryer sheets.
2. LOWER THE ELECTRIC BILL Studies show that standby power – the amount of energy sucked up by plugged-in items not in use – accounts for 10% of the average energy bill. You are inadvertently wasting $10 out of every $100 that you are billed. Rather than unplugging everything in the house over and over, use an energy-saving power strip in each room. That way, you can shut down all those gadgets with one push of a button, and switch them on easily when you need them. Your best bet: A power strip that’s also a surge protector prevents damage to electronics during electrical storms.
3. USE FEWER GALLONS OF WATER If your faucets and shower heads are more than 19 years old, there is a good chance you are using up to 60% more water than necessary. Fixtures made before 1992 pumped out 5.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or more – double or even triple, the amount today’s energy saving ones use. Replace kitchen and bathroom faucets and shower heads with those that have a rating of 80 PSI and 2.5 gpm or lower. Not only will you cut your water bill by up to 60%, you will also save big by not having to heat thousands of extra gallons of water.
With the holiday season fast approaching and guests expected, the bathroom will be an active spot in your home. Here are a few ideas to keep it a pleasant room for everyone:
1. MIRROR MAGIC. Just pour a little rubbing alcohol onto a soft, clean cloth and gently rub over glass. It evaporates in seconds, leaving nothing but crystal clear shine and no streaks.
2. ALL NATURAL AIR FRESHENER. Pull off a few twigs from a pine tree and place them in a shallow dish next to the sink. Your guests will enjoy the seasonal scent where they least expected it.
3. NO-WORK CLEANING. Clean the toilet bowl without
scrubbing; Just drop a denture tablet into the bowl, let it
go to work dissolving stains for 15 minutes, then flush.
4. EASY SCUM STOPPER. Replace your bar soap with a liquid pump soap so you won’t have to clean a sloppy soap dish after the visitors are gone.
5. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT. Expecting overnight guests? Plug in a night light and turn it on before bedtime. That way guests will not stub their toes in the middle of the night.
With the change in weather and leaves falling, the floors in your house see a lot more traffic. Here are a few natural source ideas to keep floors in good condition.
1. CLEAN UP CERAMIC TILE.
Just dip a mop in club soda and coat your tiles. The effervescent action cleans away grime and gets your floor sparkly clean.2. TREAT WITH TEA.
To keep wood floors shiny, brew a quart of water with 2 black tea bags; let cool. Dampen a clean cloth with the brew, then wash the floor, using care not to over wet the floor.
3. BUFF UP BAMBOO.
Bamboo should not be exposed to excess moisture, which can cause it to swell. Use a dry mop, like a Swiffer, to remove dirt and crumbs.
4. MOP UP STONE WITH SOAP.
Use a mixture of mild soap and warm water on a mop to clean floors. The key: After mopping, go over the stone with clean water to wash away excess soap.
There is nothing like the ambiance of a wood burning fireplace.
But like any heating system, wood burning fireplaces require maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. They should be inspected and cleaned every year. This process is not a do-it-yourself job.
A chimney fire occurs when the combustible deposits in the chimney (creosote) ignite. A chimney fire involves flames shooting out the chimney top, and air roaring up the chimney to feed the fire. It is as loud as it is dangerous! A chimney sweep can remove the creosote deposits that potentially cause fires. A flue liner in good condition will help protect your home if you do have a chimney fire.
An inspection of the chimney flue is not part of a home inspection.
Old Unlined Chimneys
Fireplaces in old homes may not have clay flue liners. It is particularly important to seek the advice of an expert for these old chimneys. Unlined brick chimneys come in two varieties: single thickness (four inches of brick), and double thickness (eight inches of brick).
The glass doors reduce heat loss when the fireplace is not running. Most glass door systems added to an existing fireplace are not designed to be closed when the fire is lit. On the other hand, some high efficiency zero-clearance fireplaces are designed for operation with the doors closed.
A wood stove is more efficient than a fireplace. Modern wood stoves burn wood cleanly and efficiently, but must be cleaned and inspected annually. An expert will check the flue, the hearth and the clearance to combustibles. The clearance to combustibles information is listed on the data tag on the wood stove.
Today, a fireplace can be added to almost any home. A zero-clearance fireplace can be installed directly against an existing wall and supported by the existing floor (a foundation is not required). A good installer is a must for this job.
Here are a few ideas to keep the bad moods and negativity at bay.
1. Stand in the rain for a sunnier mood.Take your umbrella outside and breathe deeply. Rain produces negatively charged ions that increase the flow of oxygen to your brain, which increases mood, alertness and mental energy.
2. Renew friendships with snail mail. An email note may be quick, but writing an old-fashioned letter to send through the mail is proven to be more relaxing and to invite a more thoughtful heartfelt response.
3. Invite optimism by counting to three. Stop and think about 3 things that went right today, then write them down on a scrap of paper. People who do this regularly feel better about their lives as a whole and are more optimistic about the future.
Lighten the chore of keeping pots and pans clean for the next use with a few tricks.
• Make any pan nonstick. Boiling white vinegar in your metal pan for 15 seconds will make it nonstick. It will last for 2 months, or so.
• Rid your pots of burnt food. Place a dryer sheet in the bottom of a pan with burnt food, fill with hot water and wait 30 minutes. Then just wipe away the food.
• Cook stains away. If your aluminum pot is stained, heat up tomato sauce or another acidic food in the pot. The acids act as natural stain removers on aluminum.
• Keep copper clean with fruit. Polish copper to a high sheen by rubbing tarnish away with a lemon dipped in a bit of salt.
• Do not burn trash.
• Do not burn pressure-treated or painted wood.
• Burn seasoned hardwood. Softwood will cause creosote
to build up more quickly.
• Load the logs near the back of the fireplace.
• Use the spark screen.
• Make sure smoke and CO detectors are functioning.
• Have the chimney and fireplace or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually.