Simple Checks That Can Save Your Life

Here are the key tests too many of us are missing:

1) Smear test

Cervical cancer smear test

Why it’s skipped: More than one million women miss cervical screening checks, with rates falling every year since 2011.

Women aged 25-49 are the most likely to decline a smear test, say new figures. According to other research by GynaeHealth UK, the main reasons women give for skipping smears are because they find the test uncomfortable or embarrassing, they’re too busy or it’s difficult to get an appointment.

Why you need it: Smear tests are a method of detecting abnormal cells in the cervix. Left untreated these can develop into cancer – which is why the test is credited with saving 5,000 lives a year. Eight women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer each day and it’s the most common form of the disease in under 35s.

What to do: All women registered with a GP between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening every three to five years. Women under 25 will only be given a smear test if they’re experiencing symptoms such as bleeding between periods or an unusual discharge. Ask your GP surgery when your next smear is due if you’re unsure or you have any of the above symptoms.

2) Self breast check

Why it’s skipped:
A third of women don’t check their breasts regularly for signs of cancer, often because they don’t know how to, according to the new report. And while most know that a lump ought to be checked, many don’t realise that redness, a rash or an inverted nipple could also be cancer signs.

Why you need it: In 2011, more than 50,000 women in the UK were diagnosed with breast cancer and about 11,000 died. As Breast Cancer Care chief executive Samia al Qadhi explains: ‘We know earlier detection can mean more effective treatment.”

What to do: Experts now say the important thing to do is to look at and feel your breasts regularly, so you spot any new changes quickly. You can do this in the shower, when you use body lotion or when you get dressed. See your GP if you notice any of the following: a lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast or armpit, a change in the size or breast shape, nipple discharge, dimpling on the skin, a rash on or around the nipple or a nipple becoming inverted or sunken.

3) Mammogram

A consultant analyzing a mammogram

Why it’s skipped: The mammogram programme has come under fire in recent years for causing overdiagnosis and treatment, with a review in 2012 finding that screening saves around 1,300 lives each year – but also leads to some 4,000 women having treatment they don’t need.

As a result, figures show that the number attending screenings has fallen for the third consecutive year as women fear being subjected to needless breast removal and surgery on harmless cancers that would never have caused symptoms during their lifetime.

Why you need it: Mammograms remain the most effective way of detecting breast cancer at an early stage, when lumps may be too small to feel but can still be easily treated. Most women when surveyed still say they’d prefer being over-cautious than risk missing anything cancerous.

What to do: Women over 50 fall under the NHS Breast Screening Programme and are checked every three years until 70, although the age range is gradually being extended to 47-73. Women under 50 with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer (three first-degree relatives) may be referred by their GP to their local breast clinic for earlier screening – often an ultrasound, as mammograms aren’t very useful for women under 45 who have denser breast tissue.

4) HIV test

Why it’s skipped: Embarrassment, fear and stigma are all factors for the low rate of tests among certain groups – but mainly because heterosexuals believe they’re low risk.

Why you need IT: HIV has been back in the headlines with actor Charlie Sheen admitting he has it and new figures showing 18,000 people in the UK don’t know they have the virus. Once seen as a gay disease, rates among heterosexuals continue to rise, with research showing they’re less likely to be tested and are diagnosed later.

Post-divorce 40- and 50- somethings are a particularly high risk group as research shows these age groups are less likely to use condoms – or consider a test.

Dr Peter Greenhouse, of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, has also warned dating apps such as Tinder could also trigger an explosion of HIV and other STIs in heterosexuals.

Provided it is caught early and treated with drugs, people with HIV now enjoy a nearly normal lifespan.

What to do: Anyone who has had unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners, needs to have this test. However, the highest risk group is still men who have sex with other men, people who inject drugs and people born in Africa, along with their sexual partners.

For your nearest clinic that offers free and anonymous testing, visit Terrence Higgins Trust at

5) Bowel cancer check

Why it’s skipped: In England, only around 55% of the people over 60 who receive a bowel cancer postal test actually return it.

Research shows that for many, the concept of collecting and then sending their poo samples through the post is just too unpleasant.

Why you need IT: The test aims to detect bowel cancer – the UK’s fourth most common cancer that kills over 16,000 people per year – at an early stage by testing for hidden blood in a stool.

And it works – figures show those who take part in the screening programme have a 25% lower chance of dying from the disease.

What to do: In England, everyone from ages 60-74 is now sent a kit in the post every two years.

If you’ve not received a kit, or you want to continue getting them after 74, ring the NHS bowel cancer screening programme helpline on tel: 0800 707 6060.

The test is actually very simple to do and can be done in the privacy of your own home.

Anyone with new symptoms, such as bleeding in your stools or from your bottom, persistent changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss or abdominal pain, should still see their GP immediately.

6) Eye test

Female looking into diopter

Why it’s skipped? We don’t get round to booking one or we simply don’t have any vision problems – plus many people worry about the high cost of new glasses if their prescription changes. Whatever the reason, six million people in the UK have never had an eye test, while 14 million can’t remember when they last had a check.

Why you need it: An eye test doesn’t just show whether or not you need glasses, it can also detect early signs of a number of serious conditions before you’re aware of any symptoms, including diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also pick up glaucoma, a condition that causes increased pressure in the
eye and can lead to blindness if it is left untreated.

What to do: Book an appointment every two years with a local optometrist for a full eye health exam. Eye tests are free for the over 60s. If any problems are picked up, you’ll be referred to your GP or a specialist eye hospital.

7) Mole self check

Doctor examining woman with melanoma
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Why it’s skipped: We’re still not really skin-cancer aware in this country – despite our soaring rates of the disease. Indeed, research by the British Association of Dermatologists this year found that just 6% of people in the UK regularly checked their skin, with more than three-quarters admitting they wouldn’t know how to recognise a skin cancer.

Why you need it: Skin cancer is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with 2,500 people dying each year in this country from malignant melanoma – the most deadly form.

“Picking up on any changes to our skin needs to become a cultural habit for us all,” stresses dermatologist Dr Bav Shergill. “Bear in mind that cancer can appear anywhere, including under your nails and on the soles of your feet, so your whole body needs checking.”

What to do: Check your skin regularly – ask your partner or a friend to do your back for you. As well as any changes in existing moles, other changes in your skin, such as bleeding or scaling, can all be early signs of skin cancer and mean you should see your GP, who may refer you to a dermatologist to rule out cancer.

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Successful Runners Long Kept Secret To Increasing Energy And Stamina


Get out and about

The best way to improve your stamina is to run, run and then run some more. It may be slow going at first, but it’s important to note that one of the biggest pitfalls is going too hard and hurting yourself. By gradually increasing the length and speed you run, you can see positive changes over time.

Cross-training is another very effective way of building your stamina and making sure you don’t get bored with your workouts. By adding other strong cardiovascular activities like cycling or swimming to your routine, you will be more likely to see an improvement in your running time.

Sort your diet

When you think of food as the fuel for your body, it makes sense to watch what you eat. Making sure you eat enough carbohydrates to give you energy and plenty of protein to repair muscles after a run can help you reach those fitness goals. You’ll find that by eating a healthy diet you’ll have more energy thanks to all the vitamins and nutrients you’re feeding your body.

You may also want to consider taking a supplement such as Swisse Ultiboost Immune – a comprehensive formula containing vitamin C, zinc and copper, for natural defence and reduction of tiredness and fatigue – to help support your immune system and protect your cells from oxidative stress.

Apps to give you a push

You can get an app for everything now, and running is no exception. C25K (Couch to 5k) is a great option for complete beginners, while Nike+ Running adds a competitive angle for those who want to beat their friends and then brag about it over amino shakes. But if you really want to put your money where your mouth is you might want to try Pact, which rewards those who meet their fitness goals with cash.

Avoid injury

Although no one gets injured intentionally, there are many things you can do to keep your body pain free. If you’re planning to run a marathon – or any other long-distance race – it’s a good idea to plan well ahead to give yourself enough time to prepare. If you’re feeling any pain or discomfort, it’s best to ease off for a while and let your joints and muscles repair themselves rather than risking major damage.

Watch out for your joints, which are prone to running aches and injuries. Taking Swisse Ultiboost Joints may help you achieve your running aspirations as it contains key ingredients beneficial for joint health: glucosamine, a naturally occurring chemical found in the fluid that surrounds joints; and wild krill oil, a source of omega-3 with antioxidant support.

Smile more

Running has been proven to make people feel happier. Not only will you start to look fitter, which is a confidence boost in itself, the act of running releases endorphins into the brain that trigger a happy response known as “runner’s high.” Even if you don’t make it to marathon levels, running any distance long or short will do wonders for your mood.

The biggest factor to improving your stamina is having the dedication to keep training, even if your progress is slower than you anticipated or your muscles are beginning to ache slightly. Once you get into a routine, you’ll be able to work your way to longer (and quicker) runs, and all that effort will seem worthwhile. Standard Chartered Marathon, anyone?

Get a run for your money

One of the world’s premier running events, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) is actually a number of events including a full and half marathon, an Ekiden for six-runner teams, a 10km course for runners of all abilities including the wheelchair-bound, and even a (very) popular 700m kids’ dash. The SCMS rolls around every year, in early December, and registration wraps up at the end of November but most events are fully booked well before then.

The SCMS also attracts a large number of family and friends out to support runners in the various races, with a resulting carnival atmosphere, so even if you’re a non-participant it can still be a lot of fun to go down and soak up some of the marathon excitement. Check out the SCMS website if you’re interested – but hurry, because registration ends 30 November


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10 Dining Spots Your Kids Will Love

When it comes to eating out with your little ones, do you always find yourself on the verge of pulling your hair out?

It can be incredibly tricky dining out with your young children as you have to feed them, pacify them, entertain them before you can even dig into your now-cold plate of hearty handmade ravioli or premium wagyu.

Take heart that you’re not alone! has rounded up this list of 10 kid-friendly dining spots in Singapore that’ll keep your little ones’ tummies and hearts full.

While your little ones are busy entertaining themselves, your wife/husband and you can finally tuck in without breaking a sweat!

1. Jamie’s Italian


Conveniently located in VivoCity, Jamie’s Italian is a kid-friendly, casual Italian restaurant that your family can dine at for a fun-filled day or night out.

Besides offering a nutritionally-balanced selection of delicious food options on its rustic menu for both adults and kids, Jamie’s Italian also offers an exquisite antipasti bar and ice-cold draft beers brewed exclusively for Jamie’s Italian Singapore.

You’ll be happy to know that Jamie’s Italian provides high chairs for younger children, and colouring sheets and crayons to keep children entertained.

They’ve also got a mini terrace with a herb garden for those curious little ones to explore!

If you don’t already know, Jamie’s Italian is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s casual Italian chain. You can be sure that your family is in good hands, especially since Jamie champions healthy eating and is no stranger to fighting for food education for every child worldwide.


Jamie’s Italian

1 Harbourfront Walk



Singapore 098585


6733 5500

Opening hours:

Sunday to Thursday: 12:00pm-10:00pm

Friday and Saturday: 12:00pm-11:00pm

2. Marché


The Marché outlet at Suntec City is one absolute winner for families. Besides providing colouring sheets and craft sets to keep children occupied, the double-storey windmill-themed play area never fails to work its magic to enchant kids!

The play area is larger and better than the one at Marché 313 Somerset; expect to find a mini-bridge and a stairway leading to a hideout on the second floor.

Kids will love the blackboards, puzzles, wooden playhouses, wooden train tracks, treehouse and an almost-life-sized cow they get to “milk”! There’s even a climbing wall for children who are physically more active.

If you can get your little ones away from the play areas to actually load up on food, Marché’s Picky Kids Menu offers easy-to-eat sweet or savoury crepes, rosti with chicken cheese or pork sausage, or pizza.

Fret not if your child’s still a toddler – the Suntec City and 313 Somerset outlets have baby stations equipped with a microwave oven for parents to reheat pre-packed baby food brought from home.


Marché Mövenpick Suntec City

3 Temasek Boulevard

Suntec City Mall


Singapore 038983


6337 3134

Opening hours:

Monday – Friday: 8:00am-11:00pm

Saturday – Sunday & public holidays: 10:00am-11:00pm



Who hasn’t been to or heard of IKEA? It is famed for its gorgeous show rooms, flat packages, bouncy meatballs and ice-cream cones that retail at an unbeatable price of $0.50 each.

The family-friendly IKEA restaurant wing is where you’ll find affordable Swedish-style food for all, special kids meals, high chairs and play areas all in one place.

While the adults are busy shopping at the store, children can be kept equally occupied within IKEA’s in-house play facility, Småland – a magical forest with spider webs strong enough to climb and clogs big enough for children to hide inside.

It’s the perfect play area for jumping, climbing, running and bouncing. Do check out Småland Conditions of Entry before making a trip down!

There is also a silent and calm forest where children can watch a movie or just rest under an enormous spruce tree. Whatever their choice, it is definitely adventure for the little ones!

At the IKEA store, there are also changing rooms for babies where parents can attend to the needs of their little ones.

IKEA Alexandra Address:

317 Alexandra Road

IKEA Alexandra

Singapore 159965

IKEA Alexandra Store Opening Hours:

10:00am-11:00pm daily

IKEA Alexandra Restaurant Hours:

9:00am-10:00pm daily (Last order at 9:30pm)

IKEA Tampines Address:

60 Tampines North Drive 2

IKEA Tampines

Singapore 528764

IKEA Tampines Store Opening Hours:

10:00am-11:00pm daily

IKEA Tampines Restaurant Hours:

Monday-Friday: 9:30am-10:30pm

Weekends/PH: 9:00am-10:30pm

(Last order at 10pm)

4. Quentin’s – The Eurasian Restaurant


It is a harsh reality but not all restaurants are warm and welcoming towards diners with young children.

Quentin’s made it into our list because it is ultra kid-friendly, boasts fantastic service on top of dishing out excellent Eurasian food at very reasonable prices.

It is recommended that the whole family head to Quentin’s together as their portions are pretty generous!

Quentin’s playroom for kids is air-conditioned and packed with lots of toys and books! Its kids menu is priced at $15++ with a selection of mains including usual suspects like fish & chips, chicken tenders, sausage & chicken nuggets and chicken stew. Each kid’s meal comes with fresh apple juice and 1 scoop of ice-cream!


Quentin’s The Eurasian Restaurant

Eurasian Community House

139 Ceylon Road

Singapore 429744


6348 0327

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Sunday: Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm, Dinner: 6:30pm-10:30pm

*Opened till midnight on Fridays

*Closed on Mondays

5. Cool De Sac


Cool de Sac is a children’s entertainment center like no other – it centres around children and their parents by establishing a space where the whole family gets to enjoy a healthy meal out together without compromising on their children’s development through creative play.

Thriving on the notion “Eat well. Play smart!”, expect to find educational play stations ranging from LEGO, arts and crafts, to interactive games for older kids and a plushy soft play area for younger ones at Cool de Sac.

The adjoining Bistro Cool by Cool de Sac commits to serving quality food whipped up with fresh ingredients that even the most health-conscious individuals would approve of.

Admission charges and other vital information can be found on their official website here.


3 Temasek Boulevard


Suntec City Mall

Singapore 038983


6337 0205

Opening hours:

10:00am-8:00pm daily

6. Scrumptious At The Turf


Nestled amongst the slew of family-friendly eateries at The Grandstand sits Scrumptious At The Turf, a restaurant that offers fresh, hearty Western comfort food.

It is especially value-for-money on weekdays and the delightful food is something that anyone would appreciate.

Scrumptious At The Turf is a great place to take your kids to for wholesome food that doesn’t necessarily translate into boring food.

Children will love the rack of little toys and puzzles, the gigantic chalkboard that they can doodle on and the light-hearted cartoons that screen perennially on their TV screen.

On top of having a play area for kids within the friendly and welcoming restaurant, kids get to dine for free!

But of course, the catch is that a child gets to dine for free with any adult main course ordered. You’ll also be pleased to know that the mains are generously portioned!


200 Turf Club Road

The Grandstand


Singapore 287994


6464 6900

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Friday: 10:00am-10:00pm

​Saturday – Sunday: 09:00am-10:00pm (or later!)

*Closed on Monday

7. Trapizza


Trapizza is a casual Italian bistro sitting on the ever popular Siloso Beach at Sentosa. Its open-air layout offers an ideal chill-out spot for beachgoers, tourists and families alike.

Besides indulging in wood-fired thin-crust pizzas, a selection of pastas, salads, snacks and desserts, families get to soak up the sun and dig their feet into the warm soft sand on a fun day out in the sun! A children’s set menu is also available at Trapizza.

They have play houses on the sandy beach where kids can enjoy slides and sand play while parents chill out al fresco style, looking out for their kids at the same time.



10 Siloso Beach Walk

Singapore 098970


6376 2662

Opening hours:

11:30am-9:30pm daily

8. EatPlayLove Café


If your kids are fascinated with arts and crafts of all sorts, you have to take them to EatPlayLove Café. Aptly situated in Kampong Glam, EatPlayLove Café oozes lots of whimsical vibes and is full of nostalgia.

You can also find old-school Singaporean snacks and toys that are sure to trigger that sentimentalist in you!

At just $5, each kid gets two hours of unlimited crafting fun on weekdays at this crafty café!

On weekends, public holidays or school holidays, rates sit at $5 for the first hour, and $2.50 for each subsequent 30-minute window.

You’ll be surprised what your little children can dream up with the unlimited use of craft materials!

EatPlayLove Café serves a mix of Western dishes, Thai-inspired cuisine and sandwiches such as Macaroni & Cheese and Pineapple Rice.

If you intend to eat, go early, as their kitchen is closed from 3-6pm except on weekends and public holidays!

You might want to keep tabs on their Facebook page for latest updates, too!


28 Aliwal Street


Singapore 199918


6444 6400

Opening hours:

Monday, Wednesday-Sunday: 12:00pm-10:00pm

*Closed on Tuesday

9. Café Melba


Spacious grounds for children to run about? Check.

A kid-friendly menu that kids actually love? Check.

A big, bouncy castle on weekends and public holidays? Check.

Seriously delicious, thin-crust pizzas? Check.

Enter Café Melba, an Australian-inspired cafe located in the compounds of the Goodman Arts Centre that exudes laid-back charm and loads of joy for every child and parent.

On a regular day, board games, coloured pencils and activity sheets are available to keep your young ones in their seats!

Feel free to ask if your child needs high chair or if you need to park the stroller, they’ll be more than happy to assist you.

Well, besides the alone-time or spouse-time you’ll finally be receiving, Café Melba is where you should be looking if you (and your kids) yearn for wholesome, basic comfort food in a lush, family-friendly setting.

Word has it that their fluffy, non-greasy pancakes and wood-fired thin-crust pizzas are must-tries!


Café Melba


Goodman Arts Centre

Block N

Goodman Road

Singapore 439053


6440 6068

Opening hours:

Weekday: 10:00am-10:00pm

Weekend: 8:00am-10:00pm

10. Ocean Restaurant By Cat Cora


If you don’t already know, Cat Cora, a mother of four, made television history in 2005 when she became the first and only female Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America.

It is therefore not difficult to guess that the food served in the Ocean Restaurant amid swimming, majestic sea creatures is expensive and exquisite down to the detail.

The Ocean Restaurant is popular among couples as it is romantic in its own right. Nonetheless, it remains a family-friendly restaurant with its offering of a children’s menu, huge activity sheets and even coloured pencils for kids.

Now, that is quite unheard of in the realm of fine-dining restaurants, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure the stingrays and fish swimming at an eye-to-eye level are a bigger draw for your inquisitive little ones!


Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora

S.E.A Aquarium

Resorts World™ Sentosa

8 Sentosa Gateway

Singapore 098269


6577 8888

Opening hours:

11:30am-3:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm daily

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4 Strategies to Help You Remember Names  

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Do you find it embarrassing when you’re unable to recall someone’s name – especially when they remember yours?


Although some people seem to have an inherent talent for remembering names, we’re not all that fortunate. However, the good news is you can learn this important social skill.


Dale Carnegie, long known for his approach to business success, formulated an interesting 3-step method for remembering peoples’ names. Step 4, although not Dale Carnegie’s, will also help.


Try these strategies to help you memorize names the first time you meet someone:


  1. Immediately start imprinting the person’s name in your mind. Unfortunately, when we first meet someone new, we tend to focus on being polite. However, it’s wise to focus, instead, on the person’s name. Pay close attention to their name and make eye contact with them as you restate it.


  • If you don’t catch the name, state something like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name; could you repeat it?” Then, when they say their name, say it back to them to ensure you get it right, like, “Oh, it’s very nice to meet you, Jane Doe.”
  1. Repeat the name over and over. After you’ve said the name of the person back to them, repeat it to yourself — “Jane Doe, Jane Doe, Jane Doe.”
  • What you’re now doing is applying a basic rule of memory theory – if you want to remember something, repeat it over and over again to impress it into your short-term memory.
  • To solidify the name into your memory bank, repeat it to yourself throughout the day, evening and even the next day. Doing so will help you transfer the information into your long-term memory. Think, “Last night, I met Jane Doe and John Smith.”
  • When you meet up with another friend at the social event, mention, “I just met Jane Doe; she’s the woman with red hair and blue dress over there.” Any type of repetition of the person’s name will help you remember it later.

  1. Connect the name to an image in your mind. This strategy is very powerful. Make a mental picture of the person that will help you remember their name.

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    Image source:
  • For example, if the person’s name is Rose Brown, imagine her sitting on a brown horse holding a bouquet of roses. Carnegie stressed that the more elaborate and nonsensical your mental picture, the more likely you are to recall the person’s name.
  • Of course, there will be times whenever the person’s name is not a common object (like Rose) or color (like Brown). During those times, there is all the more reason to visualize a quirky picture that will help you remember the person’s name.
  • For example, if a person’s name is Gloria Armstrong; imagine her singing the hymn, “Gloria” while pumping iron (think “arms strong”). The wackier your mental picture visualizing the person, the more likely it is you’ll remember their name.
  1. Use technology. Use your smartphone’s voice recording app to repeat a person’s name and a brief description of their characteristics.

  • If you don’t have voice recording capability, type in a quick note of the person’s name, where you met him, and some facts about him.


Whether you decide to use some or all of these steps to remember names, you’ll increase your ability to recall someone’s name later. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how successfully you recall names of people you’ve only briefly met. Strengthen your memory for names by practicing these simple strategies.


Renew Fading Friendships

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A function of maturing and making your way through life is that you’ll occasionally leave behind someone you really care about. It might be your best friend from high school, your old neighborhood buddy, a college dorm roommate, or even a past co-worker you connected with.


Over time, you may find yourself yearning for another conversation, a lunch out or evening spent with a long-lost friend. But after so much time has passed, how can you renew fading friendships before they disappear completely?


Consider these suggestions to re-connect with a friend from your past:


  1. Give your friend a call. You might freeze up at the thought of calling because, after all, it has been so long. However, the only way of renewing your friendship is to make contact. Just do it.

  • Tell her you’ve missed her. Mention you’ve been thinking about the fun you had shopping and playing tennis together and that you want to maintain your friendship. Listen to how she feels about the relationship. Inquire about what’s going on in her life.
  1. If you don’t have your friend’s telephone number, call his parents or drive by the last residence where he lived. Knock on the door and inquire of the residents if they know what happened to him. Contact a mutual friend and ask where your old friend is living now or how you might get in contact.
  2. Set up a rotating commitment. Once you contact your friend and discover he wants to continue your friendship, suggest the two of you get together on an ongoing basis to keep your relationship going.
  • For example, meet for dinner every other Wednesday evening. Get together one Saturday a month for lunch. A standing appointment keeps you both looking forward to spending time with one another.
  1. Be willing to make the extra effort. If your friend lives 90 minutes away by car, when you call, say you’d love to drive over and spend some time with him. Show you’re willing to do what’s necessary to see your friend occasionally. Hopefully, your friend will eventually be willing to drive over to see you as well.
  2. Write a letter and send it by snail mail. A hand-written letter shows you put some time and thought into what you wanted to say. Plus, your friend will have a tangible representation of your attempt to contact him, which means he’ll notice your efforts to get in touch.
  • This method is particularly helpful when you don’t have the person’s telephone or cell numbers.
  • Send a letter every other month for 6 months or so and include all your contact information, such as your cell phone number, home phone number, e-mail address, and home address. Doing so will make it easier for your friend to contact you using whatever method he prefers.

  1. Once you’ve established initial contact, use technology to stay connected. Find out from your friend if he uses e-mail and texting. If so, send him an e-mail every few days. If your friend prefers a quick text, use texting to stay in touch.
  2. Consider Facebook. After you’ve made your initial contact, find out if your friend is on Facebook. If so, “friend” him and use Facebook to keep in touch.

It’s a great feeling to discover an old friend wants to renew your relationship. Go ahead and be the one who takes the first steps to rekindle an old friendship. Use these methods to re-connect with that wonderful friend from your past.


Promote Strong Listening Skills in Your Children

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Being the kind of parent you want to be requires knowledge, consistency, and a sense of confidence. When you truly know that what you’re doing is the right thing, even in the face of conflict you’ll follow through.


One important skill to cultivate in your children is listening. Good communication skills will benefit your children in all aspects of their lives – at home, school, work, and in relationships. If your children know how to listen well, they will live a more fulfilling and successful life.


Try these strategies to promote strong listening skills in your children:


  1. Listen to your children. One of the strongest ways that children learn is through modeling behaviors of their parents.


  • When you demonstrate good listening skills in your everyday life in the presence of your kids, they will learn those skills, too. They can see how it’s done by watching you.
  1. Stop doing whatever you’re doing. When you want to communicate with your child, suspend your current activity to focus completely on them. Whether they initiate the conversation or you do, stop what you’re doing so you can concentrate on your interaction.
  2. Make eye contact. In any type of communication, look in the eyes of the person you’re talking to and teach your children to do the same.
  • A subtle and special connection is made when people make eye contact. You can start modeling this behavior to your children when they’re quite young, even before the age of 2 years.
  1. Say your child’s name. When you talk to your children, saying their name will help get their attention and set them up to be ready to listen, just like when someone calls your name, you stop what you’re doing and look at them.

  • Getting your child’s attention by stating his name is an effective way to prepare him to hear what you’re going to say. That focus is necessary to begin to develop listening skills.
  1. Suggest to your child that they sit down. This suggestion sends the message, “Get ready to listen because I’m going to talk.”


  • When your child is very young, try leading him to a chair. Then say something like, “I’d like to talk to you for a minute,” which serves as an attention-getter.
  • Once you complete what you wanted to express, be ready to listen to your child’s response.
  1. Spot-check their listening skills. From time to time, ask your child what you just said. You’re trying to determine what your child heard by asking him to paraphrase what you said. When he repeats it properly, praise his efforts.

  • If he doesn’t get it quite right, you have an opportunity to repeat what you said for clarification and to enhance his listening skills.


  1. Reinforce a child’s effort to listen, no matter how small. When your child shows the smallest attempt to listen or to even approach listening, it’s smart to reinforce those efforts right away.


  • Even with a 2-year-old, you can encourage their listening skills by saying, “Thank you for sitting so quietly while Mommy was talking,” or, “You were really listening to Daddy, thank you.”
  • After a conversation, simple responses, such as smiling while you say, “Great job on listening,” also let your kids know they exhibited the important behavior you were seeking.


Promoting your child’s listening abilities is best done in small ways every single day. As a parent, you’re the best role model for teaching your children communication skills. Reward their efforts with smiles and positive comments, and you’re on your way to building their listening skills for a successful future.


Science Says: Eating with your kids will make them smarter and increase their IQ

Here’s what scientific research reveals about how conversations during mealtimes benefit children.

by Emma Lee

Family dinners in Singapore are under siege. Much too often, children and parents eat separately or on their own, particularly during the working week, when homework, after-school activities and careers take precedence over sharing an evening meal.


A survey carried out by Ikea in August revealed that a third of the Singaporeans interviewed wished they could eat with their family more often but were hampered by different schedules. It is a sad state of affairs, for as 20 years of research from North America, Europe and Australia shows, sitting down for a nightly home-cooked meal not only nourishes the body, but benefits the brain and soul.

Mind connection

Proper mealtimes, meaning those devoid of smartphones, tablets, TV noise and other distractions, provide parents and children with the opportunity to carry out meaningful conversations. It might be about each other’s day, a joke or a story, but there is strong evidence to suggest that children who engage in conversation during dinnertime are likely to pick up early literacy skills. These include a broader vocabulary, reading fluency, storytelling ability and a love of reading – solid foundations for academic learning and excellence. In fact, regular mealtimes have been found to be a more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school or doing homework.

Body connection

For parents concerned about their child’s self-confidence and body image, mealtimes are the ideal opportunity to provide a positive experience for kids – one that focuses on good manners and good nutrition. If children can grow accustomed to seeing a nutritious meal in front of them, then they are more likely to make healthier food choices later in life. Additionally, conversations around the dinner table should steer away from negative topics or bickering, and focus on wellness rather than weight in order to promote a healthy body image, as research proves that young adults who eat regular family meals are less likely to experience weight issues.

Soul connection

In 2014, it was announced that family mealtimes would become part of the “happiness” index among British households. Given that 33 per cent of Singaporeans desire to spend more time sharing a meal with their families, could this be a reflection of the environment kids are being raised in? Several studies point to the correlation between regular family dinners in reducing a number of high-risk teenage behaviours including smoking, binge drinking, eating disorders and bullying. Kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them.

Even if dinnertime together as a family means an hour at the most, the lifelong benefits speak volumes.


5 Ways to Dress to Impress at Work



While most bosses won’t check out the labels on your clothes (unless you are have an extremely high-profile job where fashion is everything), the way you dress will likely make an impression on your boss no matter where you work. Looking presentable is important; waking up and throwing on clothes without thinking about what you are wearing won’t score you points. Certain factors — including how your clothes fit, which colors you wear, and how much skin you show — can affect how other people perceive you at work. Neat, presentable work attire can help you move up in your career, or at least keep your job, while consistent inappropriate clothing may negatively affect the way your boss perceives you. Particularly if your company has a dress code (official or not), breaking it can mean bad news for you. Thankfully, you can dress to impress if you follow these five easy steps.

1. Think about your audience

It’s common to hear people say to dress for your day, and this is great advice. Target has been in the news recently for creating a dress for your day atmosphere, which is something that is becoming very popular at many different companies. Dress for your day implies that you should do just that; if you’re sitting at your desk all day and your company allows jeans, then that might be just fine. However, if you have a meeting with an important client or your boss, you might want to dress up in a nice suit, or at least business attire.

Regularly thinking about your audience will show that you care about your job, and that you take it seriously. Many people also say that you should dress for the job you want: this means that even if everyone else in your job class wears jeans and polo shirts, you might want to dress a little nicer.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Be neat

Obviously, if you work at a fast-food restaurant with a required shirt, you won’t have a lot of options besides possibly which black pants you wear. However, you can control how neatly you dress in any situation. Tuck your shirt in, and make sure you wash it regularly. It doesn’t matter if every other person you work with is wearing the same shirt as you; if your shirt is clean and tucked in, and some of your coworkers’ shirts are ripped or dirty, you will be the one looking more presentable.

The above analogy is true for more than just a job at a restaurant. Looking neat and presentable is important for any job. Many workplaces are now encouraging a regular casual dress code; although you may be allowed to wear jeans, that doesn’t mean that you should wear jeans with holes in them. You can be neat no matter what you wear. The same is true for a business suit: a business suit isn’t impressive if it doesn’t look neat and well-maintained.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Look sharp

In addition to dressing neat, you should dress sharp whenever possible. This comes back to the idea of dressing for your day, but you can look sharp even on your relaxed days. You don’t have to spend tons of money to look sharp, either. While fancy name brand clothes make a nice touch, they aren’t always necessary, and for some jobs, they aren’t even appropriate.

One way to dress sharp is to have your own unique style and to maintain it. This doesn’t mean that you should dress so absurd that everyone in your office knows it’s you even without seeing your face, but having a clear personal style is a good thing as long as you are being respectful of your work culture. Avoid tacky additions that take away from your clothing, or focus your coworkers’ attention on your clothing instead of what you are saying (for example, a huge colorful necklace, or a ridiculous tie.) One last way to dress sharp is to keep in mind what is appropriate for the season in which you are working; if it’s winter and thirty degrees, don’t come into work in a sun dress or shorts.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Wear the right size

This seems like it should be the most obvious advice on our list, and yet many workers fail to wear well-fitted, appropriately tailored clothing regularly. Tailoring your clothing is a great way to look sharp at work, but even if you choose not to tailor your clothes, you should still try to find clothing that fits properly. Coming into work with clothing that is too big makes you look lazy, and sometimes gives the impression that you don’t care about your job. On the other hand, wearing clothing that is too tight can distract your coworkers. One study found thatrisque dressing at work is improper for all jobs; managers who dressed in a sexy manner were seen as less intelligent and competent.

Source: Thinkstock

5. Remember the details

Even if you wear clothes that fit and are fashionable, you will undermine all your hard work if you don’t pay attention to details. For women, this often means wearing minimal makeup, and both men and women should brush their hair (if they have longer hair) and wash their face, etc. There are also many items that you should avoid at work, including baseball hats (unless you are having a special team day at work), pajamas, offensive t-shirts, clothes with holes or rips, clothes that show too much skin, and so on.

Also, when possible, think about the colors you are wearing. Many people believe that dark colors make them look more professional, but color can be fun and appropriate if you make careful choices. Red can appear scary or send a bad message, blue can be calming, and other colors send different messages as well.

The most important thing is to make sure that you know the dress code at your work, and to dress appropriately for whatever you have going on during a particular day. If you want to go further than that, be sure to look sharp, and if possible, dress for the job you want instead of the one you have.

Originally posted on


4 Signs That Someone Is Insecure

Source: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

You’re with someone you’ve just met, and within seconds you feel that there’s something wrong with you.

Up until meeting this person, you were having a pretty good day, but now you’re starting to question everything from the way you look to the accomplishments you’ve racked up over your life so far. Let’s say the person is the mother of one of your children’s playmates. Not only does she seem perfectly outfitted, but in simply introducing herself, she’s made it clear that she’s got an important job and a perfect family life, and that she associates with all the right people.

It’s easy to get thrown into a personal purgatory of self-doubt in these situations. Whether it’s a social contact or a business interaction,  people who want everyone to know how big they are can make the rest of us feel pretty small. Just think how much better you’d feel if you could brush these situations aside and go on about your day without doubting yourself and your life.

It turns out that armed with a simple set of detection tools, you can not only help yourself feel better, but also recognize the weaknesses in the façade of those practically perfect people.

The psychology behind this process stems from the theory of the Viennese psychoanalyst Alfred Adler, who coined the term inferiority complex.

According to Adler, people who feel inferior go about their days overcompensating through what he called “striving for superiority.” The only way these inwardly uncertain people can feel happy is by making others decidedly unhappy. To Adler, this striving for superiority lies at the core of neurosis.

We now think of this striving for superiority as a feature of narcissistic personality disorder, that deviation in normal development that results in a person’s constant search to boost self-esteem. The two kinds of narcissists are the grandiose (who feel super-entitled) and the vulnerable (who, underneath the bravado, feel weak and helpless). Some may argue that at their core, both types of narcissists have a weak sense of self-esteem, but the grandiose narcissist may just be better at the cover-up. In either case, when you’re dealing with someone who’s making you feel inferior, there’s a good chance that narcissism is the culprit.

Narcissism doesn’t always reach pathological levels, but it can characterize people to more or less of a degree. Using the concepts of “overt” and “covert” narcissism instead of grandiose and vulnerable, some personality researchers believe that they can learn more about the type of narcissism you might spot in everyday life. University of Derby (U.K.) psychologist James Brookes (2015) decided to investigate the way that people high on these tendencies actually feel about themselves both in terms of self-esteem and self-efficacy, or one’s confidence in their ability to succeed.

Using a sample of undergraduates—an important point to keep in mind—Brookes analyzed the relationships among overt and covert narcissism, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. The two forms of narcissism were not related to each other, supporting the idea that these two subtypes have some validity. Examining which were more related to self-esteem, Brookes found that those high on overt narcissism in fact had higher self-esteem: Their need to feel “special” seemed to play the most important role for these self-aggrandizing individuals. Covert narcissists, for their part, had lower self-esteem scores.

Looking at self-efficacy, or the feeling that you can reach your desired goals, the overt narcissists also won the day, compared to their more hypersensitive and insecure counterparts. In particular, for overt narcissists, the need to have power over others seemed to give them the sense that they could accomplish anything.

The Brookes study provides some clues, then, into what makes up the narcissisticpersonality. It can also offer insight into the ways you can interpret the actions of narcissistic friends, coworkers, or partners through examining their insecurities:

  1. The insecure person tries to make you feel insecure yourself.
    When you start to question your own self-worth, is it typically around a specific person or type of person? Is that individual always broadcasting his or her strengths? If you don’t feel insecure in general, but only around certain people, it’s likely they’re projecting their insecurities onto you.
  2. The insecure person needs to showcase his or her accomplishments.
    You don’t necessarily have to feel insecure around someone to conclude that inferiority is at the heart of their behavior. People who are constantly bragging about their great lifestyle, their elite education, or their fantastic children may very well be doing so to convince themselves that they really do have worth.
  3. The insecure person drops the “humble brag” far too often.
    The humble brag is a brag disguised as a self-derogatory statement. You’ve all seen these on Facebook, when an acquaintance complains about all the travel she has to take (due to the importance of her job), or all the time he has to spend watching his kids play (and, by the way, win) hockey games. (The “Facebook gloat” is a bold-faced brag which is easier to spot but may very well have the same roots.)
  4. The insecure person frequently complains that things aren’t good enough.
    People high in inferiority like to show what high standards they have. You may label them as snobs, but as much as you realize they’re putting on an act, it may be hard to shake the feeling that they really are better than you. What they’re trying to do, you may rightly suspect, is to proclaim their high standards as a way of asserting that not only are they better than everyone else, but that they hold themselves to a more rigorous set of self-assessment criteria.

Returning to the Brookes study, there can be aspects of overt narcissism that actually do work in helping the insecure feel more confident in their abilities. However, this comes at the price of making everyone else feel less confident. I wouldn’t recommend bolstering your sense of self-efficacy by putting down everyone else.

To sum up: Being able to detect insecurity in the people around you can help you shake off the self-doubts that some people seem to enjoy fostering in you. Taking the high road, and not giving in to these self-doubts, may also help you foster feelings of fulfillment both in yourself, and in the insecure people you know and care about.


Brookes, J. (2015). The effect of overt and covert narcissism on self-esteem and self-efficacy beyond self-esteem. Personality And Individual Differences, 85172-175. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.05.013

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne 2015


18 Things Japan Has That The Rest Of The World Desperately Needs

1. Machines that pour beers for you like this, so you never have to wait for a beer at a bar.



2. Katsu sandwiches that look like this.

Katsu sandwiches that look like this.

That’s right. Chicken or pork katsu. In sandwiches. Bury me now. I am done.

3. Shirts and pants from 7-Eleven stores, so you never have to experience the look of the “walk of shame”.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Flickr / Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA 2.0) / Via Flickr: andrewyang

Wearing a new shirt after a night out means that you can go home feeling like death while looking so elegant.

4. Thousands and thousands of 7-Eleven stores that have ATMs and even T-O-I-L-E-T-S inside.

Flickr / Creative Commons

30 Rock / NBC / Via

There are more than 18,000 7-Eleven stores in Japan, which is more than twice the number in the United States. Yes, really.

And the fact that many of them contain toilets means that you never have to go to a coffee shop and pretend that you actually want a coffee when you don’t want a coffee, you just want a piss. It is wonderful.

5. Hot towels (oshibori) that are given out at the start of every single meal, just so you can wipe your hands.

Hot towels (oshibori) that are given out at the start of every single meal, just so you can wipe your hands.

Thinkstock / Chat9780 / Getty Images

In other countries you’re normally given them at the start of your flight if you’re flying in business class. In Japan it feels like you’re in business class at all times.

6. Vending machines that serve hot and cold drinks.

Vending machines that serve hot and cold drinks.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

There are more than 5 million of these machines in Japan, which is insane. And there aren’t separate cold and hot vending machines – they come from the same machine.

7. Vending machines that come with a defibrillator or emergency equipment inside as standard.

They aren’t in every machine, but what a neat idea.

8. Bikes racks that ANY bike can lock into.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

No need to hire out a potentially expensive city bike to get from A to B. Just lock in your own. And these bike locks are free to use too.

9. Underground gates that close only if you don’t tap your card on the reader first.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Flickr / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: youthkee

In cities like London, the gates open only after you have tapped on the reader and remain closed the rest of the time.

Why is this boring fact important? Well, think about it. The doors constantly closing and opening at the entrance and exit of the underground can lead to so many delays waiting at the gate, even if everyone queuing in front of you is paying with the correct fare. The fact that they stay open means that you’re barely delayed at all.

10. Rail payment cards you can use in McDonald’s.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Flickr / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: amy_jane

And not just McDonald’s – you can use your transport card in many shops and restaurants. You can even use it in different cities. Even though each city in Japan has a rail card system, the cards all work in one another’s systems.

11. McDonald’s deliveries to your work and home.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

It’s not *everywhere* in Japan, but in some cities you can just download the app, choose your lunch…and boom – hangover cure to your door.

12. Hundreds of TV shows consisting of people making dinner and comments by people watching these people making dinner.

Hundreds of TV shows consisting of people making dinner and comments by people watching these people making dinner.

NHK World / Via

Sometimes every channel seems to be airing a show that consists of this format. The people commenting are usually back in a studio or are shown in a box in the corner of the screen while a chef talks and eats food in a kitchen. It’s wonderful.

For British readers, I can describe this only as 24-hour foodie Gogglebox.

13. Queues for trains and ATMs that look like this.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

YES, THIS MIGHT LOOK BORING, but it means that nobody is looking over your shoulder and people can get on and off public transportation without that painful pushing and shoving because nobody knows who is first.

Every single train station also has its own jingle – for when the train is about to arrive or depart.

14. Seats on trains that can switch direction if you prefer to sit, or not sit, with your mates.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Flickr / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: chrisjongkind

It doesn’t work, of course, if the people behind you are sitting on the seat, mind.

15. Lockers of all shapes and sizes at every station.

Lockers of all shapes and sizes at every station.

Flickr / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: southtopia

Especially useful for travellers, you can store whatever you want for about 500 yen (£2.60/$4) every 24 hours. Many other countries don’t have the nerve to do this.

By the way, you can’t store corpses in them :/

By the way, you can't store corpses in them :/

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

Or explosives. Please make a note of that.

16. Toilets that can do this when you enter the room.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

The Simpsons / FOX / Via

Not necessarily what is depicted in The Simpsons, but they can open to say hello. This can feel weirdly intimidating at first, but you get used to it.

There’s even a button on the wall that can lower the seat – so you never have to do it by hand.

17. Toilets that play sound effects like running water to disguise the sound of you on the toilet.

Toilets that play sound effects like running water to disguise the sound of you on the toilet.

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

The first time you experience a Japanese toilet, you end up playing with all of the buttons, which include bidets and fans that immediately dry your bottom. Even public toilets have them installed, so you see buttons like this quite often.

18. And a train that is covered in cartoon dogs and features a carriage with a ball pit and a library.

hjw223 / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: kenlee2010

Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

It’s called the Aso Boy! and it runs between Kumamoto and Miyaji (Aso).

The ball pit and the library are for children, by the way.

Originally posted on


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