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  • Spending Money on Time-Saving Services Will Make You Happier, According to Science

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    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com. 

    They say that money can’t buy happiness. But money can buy you free time, and a new study suggests that’s just about the same thing.

    The new research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who spent money on time-saving investments—like hiring a gardener instead of tending to the yard themselves, or paying extra for grocery delivery instead of spending time at the store—reported greater life satisfaction. That wasn’t only true for wealthy people, either: “People from across the income spectrum benefited from buying time,” the authors wrote in their paper.

    To better understand how money, time, and happiness relate to each other, researchers at the University of British Columbia surveyed more than 6,000 adults in the United States, Denmark, Canada, and the Netherlands. The participants answered questions about how often they spend money to buy themselves free time, how often they felt stressed about time, their demographics, and their overall life satisfaction.

    Even after the researchers controlled for income level, the results were clear: People who spent money on time-saving purchases reported higher levels of satisfaction with their lives. "We thought the effects might only hold up for people with quite a bit of disposable income, but to our surprise, we found the same effects across the income spectrum," said senior author and psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, in a press release.

    In fact, among the study’s U.S. participants, researchers noticed an even stronger relationship between buying time and enjoying life among those who were less affluent, the authors wrote in their paper. (They did note, however, that their sample included relatively few people at the “lowest rungs” of the income spectrum.)

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    The researchers also conducted an experiment in which they assigned 60 adults to spend $40 on a time-saving purchase one weekend and $40 on a material purchase another weekend. As suspected, people felt happier when they bought themselves free time than when they bought new stuff.

    "People who hire a house cleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they're being lazy," said lead author Ashley Whillans, PhD, now an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, in a press release. "But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money."

    So why does spending money on these types of tasks make us feel good? “Our experiment provides the clearest window into this process, by demonstrating that people felt less end-of-day time pressure when they purchased time-saving services, which explained their improved mood that day,” the authors wrote in their paper. Using money to buy time may serve “as a buffer against the deleterious effects of time pressure on overall life satisfaction,” they added.

    If this is all true, we should probably be spending more money on time-saving purchases. The researchers reference one survey of 850 millionaires, in which almost half reported spending no money outsourcing tasks they didn’t like doing. Another survey of 98 working adults revealed that only 2 percent would spend a windfall of $40 in a way that saved them time.

    "Lots of research has shown that people benefit from buying their way into pleasant experiences, but our research suggests people should also consider buying their way out of unpleasant experiences," said Dunn in the press release.

    The researchers do offer one word of caution, however: “People often complain of being in a time bind not only because they are objectively busy, but also because they perceive a lack of control over their time,” they wrote in their paper. In that sense, they say, spending too much money delegating chores and daily tasks could potentially backfire—and lead to reduced well-being—by reinforcing the idea that we can't handle everything ourselves.

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  • What Does Namaste Really Mean?

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    If you’ve ever taken yoga, then you know the two things that happen at the end of class. First, everyone does Savasana, aka the corpse pose, when you lie on your back in total relaxation. Once the class is sitting up again, you put your hands together at your heart or in front of your “third eye” (the center of your forehead between your eyes), bow, and say “Namaste.”

    Saying Namaste at the conclusion of class is such a ritual, you may never have actually stopped to think about what that word really means—plus how it can shape your yoga practice, if not other aspects of your life. Here’s the deeper definition to Namaste that every yogi needs to know.

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    The definition of Namaste

    Namaste’s literal translation in Sanskrit is "Nama" (to bow), "As" (I), and "Te" (you). Put it all together, and it means “I bow to you,” explains Liza Pitsirilos, yoga and fitness instructor at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami. Bowing forward as you say it underscores the depth and sincerity behind the term. “When you do this, you’re surrendering your head to your heart,” she explains.

    Even though it’s just three short syllables, repeating Namaste is a crucial part of practicing yoga because it helps you take a step back and become more centered and present, which is what yoga is about. “We have such an active lifestyle focused on logic, reason, and problem-solving that it’s helpful to calm down an active mind by getting focused, so you’re not just jumping from thought to thought,” says Pitsirilos.

    Not only does it help you dial back some of the crazy in life, but Namaste reminds you to acknowledge fellow students in class as well as the instructor. “In India, Namaste is also a greeting,” says Elisabeth Halfpapp, executive vice president of mind body programming at Exhale.

    When you use Namaste as a way to say hello or goodbye, you’re making an effort to actively connect to others. Sure, part of the reason you're at yoga class might be because the flows and poses help you challenge yourself and reach your fitness goals. Repeating Namaste, however, is a reminder that you and the people on the mats next to yours are all in this class, and this world, together and for a deeper purpose. 

    Saying Namaste and reflecting on its meaning also helps you learn a little about yourself—what your heart wants, what you really feel, and what direction you want to take in life. “We’re a society that today is in our heads, rather than coming from our heart," says Halfpapp. "When I teach, I instruct my students to make decisions from their heart and core, which are better known as your gut feeling."

    Halfpapp also notes that Namaste can remind you to reflect on your gratitude and look at the bigger picture, in spite of whatever crappy things life might be flinging your way in the moment.

    RELATED: How Expressing Gratitude Might Change Your Brain

    How to practice Namaste in yoga class

    If all of this sounds like a tall order—the dialing back, acknowledging others, keeping yourself in the present—that’s because we’re not really wired that way. It takes practice, which is why Namaste is recited at the very end of class. “You come out of Savasana with your mind more open and your body relaxed, and it’s at this point we’re more receptive to an exchange of Namaste,” explains Enilse Sehuanes-Urbaniak, yoga instructor at Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah.

    Yet the more you practice and recognize the true meaning behind Namaste, the easier it will be to tap into that inner calm when you need it most. Exercising the mind is just like exercising the body: you build that muscle memory over time.

    Because it’s so important, you should try your best to stay for the full class. Maybe you’re trying to beat the traffic or are already running late to meet friends for dinner, so you skip Savasana and Namaste. But rushing to your next appointment is completely contrary to the meaning behind Namaste. “There’s a saying that your class is only as good as your Savasana,” says Halfpapp. “That’s when your nervous system calms down and you absorb everything you did in class,” she says.

    RELATED: 16 Perfect Yoga Gifts for Women

    Next time you've got a class scheduled, stay through the end—and If you truly have to leave early, let your instructor know. Then take two minutes before you need to take off, come out of whatever pose you’re in and take a Savasana. You can say Namaste if you’d like, or just keep it in mind as you leave. If you think that sounds a little out there, we hear you. But give it a try, and you'll likely see how it makes a difference in how much more centered you feel.

    How to live the principles of Namaste 

    Namaste can help change how you carry yourself in everyday situations. “Namaste creates a deep union of our spirits together in class. That’s the collective experience of the word,” says Pitsirilos. Think of it as a moment of inner peace, which can ripple outward and surprise you by dissolving tension or conflict in other areas of your life.

    “Namaste is sending messages of peace to the universe," adds Halfpapp. It’s all about the positive energy you've created with Namaste. Friends, family members, and even coworkers can “catch” your sense of gratitude. If you have a hard time believing that this happens, consider how easy it is to feel down after hanging out with a friend who’s attitude is totally negative. Moods really are contagious.

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    Namaste can enhance your relationships too. Remember that saying “I bow to you,” or Namaste, essentially tells someone that you’re really seeing them as the person they are. And that extra attention can make them feel special. “The next time you meet someone, I encourage you to do so wholeheartedly. Take a moment to look the person in the eye and really be conscious to see the person past the physical,” suggests Pitsirilos.

    It’s completely different from saying "hey" to a coworker and going about your day or “talking” to a friend while checking your phone. You’re there with them in the moment, and not anywhere else. “The ultimate gift we can give each other is our full presence,” says Pitsirilos. 

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  • This Viral Hashtag Illustrates How the New Healthcare Bill Affects Women

    While supporters cheered the passing of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives yesterday, many people who opposed it took to Twitter, where they voiced their outrage over one part of the new plan and made the hashtag #iamapreexistingcondition go crazy viral.

    What's it all about? While the AHCA keeps some Obamacare provisions in place, like allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plan until age 26, the new bill lets insurers deny coverage or charge higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing conditions. What qualifies as a pre-existing condition will be up to insurers. Epilepsy, heartburn, and celiac disease are just some of the afflictions that could cause your coverage to cost more or keep you from getting any insurance at all, according to a list released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a healthcare research nonprofit.

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    Female-specific conditions such as postpartum depression, C-sections, and pregnancy are also on the Kaiser list, prompting many women to join the outcry. 


    Celebrities also rallied around the hashtag and opened up about their own health history:

    The next stop for the AHCA is the Senate, which has to debate and then approve it before it can be signed into law. It's too early to tell if #iamapreexistingcondition will compel Senators to tweak the preexisting conditions part, but GOP senators have said that they would prefer to draft their own version of the bill.

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