Archives for category: Social Intelligence

I found this fantastic article on and I never knew Ben Franklin could be a master of politics and self-development?! His humility in accepting his flaws is refreshing and better yet his constant effort to improve himself is admirable.  Mr. Franklin has inspired me to try his approach in achieving my own good habit goals.

The article applies Mr. Franklin’s method with time management habits which will definitely be included on my goal list.  Without further ado here is the article…

Twelve Time Management Habits to Master.

Nearly three hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin came up with an approach to changing habits that has yet to be surpassed. A young adult seeking to straighten out his act, Franklin developed a list of thirteen virtues, jotting down a brief definition of each. These were character traits he took to be important, but in which he found himself lacking. He knew that nurturing these habits would bring about positive change in his life.

Starting at the top of the list, Franklin spent one week working on each virtue. In the morning he thought about how he would reinforce the new habit throughout the day. During the day he looked at his notes to remind himself of the new habit. At the end of the day, he counted how many times he fell back into the old habit.

While Franklin was surprised at first to see how “faulty” his behavior was, he was so resolved that he pressed on, working through the entire list in a thirteen-week cycle, and completing four such cycles in a year. As for results, he noted in his autobiography that while perfection was unattainable, he could see big improvements.

Modern psychologists recognize three key elements in Franklin’s three-hundred-year-old procedure for changing habits:

  1. He started out committed to the new behavior.
  2. He worked on only one habit at a time.
  3. He put in place visual reminders.

Applying Benjamin Franklin’s Method

Here are 12 time management habits for the new year. Tailor these as you like, but whatever you do, work on one each week using Benjamin Franklin’s method:

Habit 1: Strive to be authentic. Be as honest with yourself as you can about what you want and why you do what you do.

Habit 2: Favor trusting relationships. Put your efforts into building relationships with people you can trust and count on, and make sure those same people can trust and count on you.

Habit 3: Maintain a lifestyle that will give you maximum energy. Work your way up to doing aerobic exercise at least three times a week, eating a light lunch, and getting enough sleep.

Habit 4: Listen to your biorhythms and organize your day accordingly. Make it a habit to pay attention to regular fluctuations in your physical and mental energy levels throughout the day; and based on what you learn, make adjustments to how you schedule tasks.

Habit 5: Set very few priorities and stick to them. Select a maximum of two things that are your highest priority, and plan time to work on them.

Habit 6: Turn down things that are inconsistent with your priorities. Get good at saying no to other people, and do so frequently.

Habit 7: Set aside time for focused effort. Schedule time every day to work on just one thing.

Habit 8: Always look for ways of doing things better and faster. Be on the lookout for tasks you do over and over again, and look for ways of improving how you do them.

Habit 9: Build solid processes. Set up processes that last and that run without your attention.

Habit 10: Spot trouble ahead and solve problems immediately. Set aside time to think about what lies ahead, and face all problems as soon as you can.

Habit 11: Break your goals into small units of work, and think only about one unit at a time. Spend most of your time working on the task in front of you, and avoid dreaming too much about the big goal.

Habit 12: Finish what’s important and stop doing what’s no longer worthwhile. Don’t stop doing what you considered worth starting unless there’s a good reason to give it up.

Article written by Pat Brans – sourced from

What other habits can you guys think of applying Mr. Franklin’s method to?   Look forward to your comments:-)

xo Ash



Ash’s thoughts… “Enclothed Cognition” – the clothes we wear represent our inner motivation and feelings. You can even tie this theory in with “shopping therapy”. Regardless, I am definitely guilty of expressing myself through fashion. I enjoy my shopping trips as each new season comes along. For me, the clothes I wear is representation of how I feel on each given day. There are days when I bust out the corporate woman in me, other days when I let my inner hippie come out to play by wearing my vintage felt brim floppy hat and tasseled sandals. I reckon most of us have multiple layers that build our overall personality. So next time you are feeling extra confident and want that to be shown, wearing for example your leopard print dress and red lipstick is a great way to let that feeling shine through. XO Ash

This article really highlights that gender inequality still exists in western civilization – maybe not so much on the surface anymore, but still in the minds of our male counterparts. This leads me to ponder whether or not the glass ceiling both in the workplace & family life will ever dissipate. Moreover, is it even realistic to think that we can achieve pure gender equality? Or does nature’s biological makeup prevent this from ever happening? Will we truly be happy with if it’s achieved?

Do not get me wrong, I am very proud of all of the women who have fought for political and social equal rights. I also believe that the glass ceiling effect in the workplace can and should be completely lifted, because whether man or woman, we all have the equal mental and emotional capability to succeed in a job.

On the contrary, the family life setting is where I think maintaining a certain level of divide between man vs. woman roles is OK – but let me be clear, I do not think we should go back to to the strict divide that our grandparents were raised on. With both partners being in the workforce today, it is simply unrealistic. However, there is something natural about designating the mother to have more of a dominant role in raising the babies/children when young, as we have the mother’s intuition built in us from the moment of conception. Some heavy jobs around the house are better left for the male anatomy to do. But with this said, I also think that these roles can be blended and each partner should support one another when the other wants to dabble into their territory.

All in all, it’s about moderation, keeping an open mind as the world continues to evolve and most importantly being fair and respectable towards each another.



Ughhh… Rush hour, traffic jams, gridlock, sitting in a parking lot (I could go on)… Whatever you want to call it, I despise it.


This is the one major aspect about living in a metropolitan city that really irks me.

It unfortunately is unavoidable when you live within a populated city…or is it???

There are systems many major cities have implemented to help alleviate the congestion on the major roads/ freeways.

Common systems include:

1. HOV lanes built for buses and carpoolers.

2. Ramp metering systems (or ramp signals) which have proved to be successful in decreasing traffic congestion and improving driver safety.

The recent upgrade in Melbourne, Australia has installed 62 ramp meters that are coordinated using the HERO suit of algorithms developed by Markos Papageorgiou and Associates from the Technical University of Crete.  All the ramps can be linked when required to resolve motorway bottlenecks before they emerge. The results of a recent trial improved capacity by 9% over the previous fixed time ramp metering system and average speeds increased by 20kmh.  The HERO system takes real time data every 20 seconds from the motorway, ramps and arterial road in order determine the best signal timing for the next 20 seconds.

3. Driving Fees on major downtown/CBD routes .

Now this leads me to a brilliant talk that I came across on TED.  This talk by Jonas Eliasson goes into how he solved a traffic jam issue on one of Stockholm Sweden’s major bridges.   Jonas Eliasson studies how small charges on crowded bridges effect traffic, what makes a person opt to bike to work and how far people choose to live from public transportation. As the Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, Eliasson helped design, plan and evaluate Stockholm’s congestion tax, which was piloted in 2006 and made permanent in 2007. Eliasson is frequently brought on by other cities that are considering similar fees for rush hour use of crowded roads.

When they implemented a fee to drive on one of Stockholm’s major bridges, it resulted in 20% of the cars disappearing.  This 20% significantly improved the congestion on this bridge.  Interestingly, at the beginning of the fee being introduced the majority of the public were opposed to it and after it was established an astounding 70% of the public wanted to keep the fee – remember this is something that used to be free.  So where did the 20% of the people driving the cars go?  They changed and adapted to a new lifestyle.  The begun riding their bike, taking public transport or carpooling.

I guess what we can take from this with a little nudge, people can change and adapt to a new and most importantly healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, people are also willing pay a price if it leads to their quality of life improving.  Driving is a part of my job and therefore if my city implemented a reasonable fee on the major bridge I drive on each day to and from work I would pay it in a heart beat to gain back some of that time I lose sitting in traffic.

This talk is awesome…have a watch!




I wish it was always this easy…

I find it hard to change old bad habits and traits that definitely do not bring out the best in me. And lets face it, we all have our flaws.

But on the other hand, I believe that if we truly want to change, we have the capability to do so.  Moreover, I think it is a really healthy tool to self evaluate from time to time.  Making improvements and adjustments to ourselves is both challenging and rewarding.

First step is to realize that you want to change.

Next step is putting in the effort and little bit of work to make the change.  Lets face it, we just can’t change with a snap of our fingers.  Changing old bad habits will most likely take some effort to re-program the brain.  But with strength to persist and adapt to the new way of whatever it is, it will be more than worth it.

And when you want to give up and go back to what feels ‘normal’ or ‘easy’, try to envision the way it made you feel behaving that way.  Then imagine the new improved you once you make this transition successfully.  If its worth it, you’ll keep going.

Lastly, have faith in YOURSELF and the confidence you can be whoever you want to be.

What are some ways that you have been able to kill bad habits or traits you were not proud of?

I’m putting this question out there to the universe in hopes that we can brainstorm some ideas together…





If you are in your 20’s, I highly recommend you watch this Ted Talk by psychologist Meg Jay.


With myself fitting into this “twenty-something” stereotype, I feel a mix of emotions after listening to Meg Jay.  On one hand, I feel defensive as I personally don’t think I am wasting away my time in my 20’s  like Jay claims our generation is doing.  On the other hand, I can see her point, as I have seen some twenty-something’s negatively taking advantage of the fact that the time to settle down which = responsibility and security is now post 30’s.

Overall, I strongly believe it is a good thing that the social norm for marriage & children has shifted from our parents’ generation – the pressure to settle down was in their early twenties to now in our thirties.  This shift gives us the opportunity to be positively selfish.  What I mean by this is it gives us more time to be productive with our own life goals.  It gives us the opportunities to take our education further, build up our career’s the way we want, save money to enjoy travel, invest in property and build a strong foundation.  It also gives us the time to really pick out the friends and more importantly the partner we want to have in the next chapter of our life – creating our own family.

We look at our “baby booming” parents and the sad truth is that it is common to hear them speak of a lot of struggle in their days when raising a family.  I have heard too many times from baby boomers that if they could turn back the clock, they would do things differently.  Moreover, they’ve told me to take my time finding the right person to spend my life with, rather than just settling for the first person I think I love.  The divorce rate amoung baby boomers has doubled from 1990 to 2010.  In fact, 1 in 4 people getting divorced today are in the baby boomers age group.

I reckon one of the main reasons of why this shift has even occurred is because we, Gen X & Gen Y, don’t want to turn out like our parents, having mid-life crisis’s and being filled with regret.  Now if your parents are still happily together and living a fulfilling life that is such a great thing.  Please keep in mind, that I am just generalizing based on the facts.

So to all those twenty-somethings out there that feel that they could be taking better advantage of these precious years, here is a recap of what Jay’s message to us is:

Use our twenties to claim our adulthood!

  • Get some identity capital.  Something that adds value to who we are. Explore work and make it count.
  • Don’t get comfy with your urban “click’; new things come from weak ties.  Half of new jobs are not publicly posted, therefore reach out to friends of friends of friends.
  • Pick your family right.  Look for the right partner and work on the marriage before you have one. Consciously choose who and want you want.

My added advice based on having 8 years of my 20’s under my belt is:

  • Experiment responsibly. Experimenting with different avenues is great and we have the freedom now to take some risks, but do your homework before to make sure that all possible outcomes (A,B,C or D) from the decision will lead to a positive stepping stone to the life you want.  So if you’re going to change careers, make sure you’ve secured the new gig before quitting the current one.
  • Try to learn something new each day. It could be as simple as a new word or reading an article outside of the topic you normally would read.  Challenging yourself should be constant, and is a great confidence booster to keep going on the path to creating the ideal you.
  • Network Face-to-Face. Get out of the cyber social world, and network in the flesh.  There are so many social events (work or extracurricular related) happening in every city every day.  Sign up for one and put yourself out there.
  • When in doubt, get back to your roots.  Our 20’s is a trans formative stage so of course there are going to be times when we are ambivalent that we are making the right choices.  In times like this, it is great to lean on your family for advice.  Parents are our elders for a reason – they have wisdom that we can learn from.  Also, journaling is another great way to channel any gray matter going through your head.  Writing is a great way to organize our thoughts and makes the solution to a problem more apparent.
  • Have fun.  This rule should apply not only in our 20’s, but through every decade until the day we die.  Don’t forget to keep the kid in you, by staying young at heart.  Life does fly by, so make sure you wake up every day doing things that make you or are taking you to a happy place.




This Ted talk is fascinating to me and I highly encourage you to spare 20minutes out of your day to watch it.  Researchers have discovered these “blue zone” communities from different parts of the world have common everyday habits that result in the an even bigger common ground – they have the longest average life expectancy in the world.

There are 9 common diet & lifestyle habits that are consistent in all these unique “blue zone” societies.


Since first watching this video on Ted a few years ago, I consciously put in the effort to implement these habits into my daily life.  In the western world, we are tempted on a daily basis to step outside of these habits.  But with a little bit of conscious thinking, self-assurance and will power, you can stay grounded and healthy.

Here are my tips on how we can achieve a “blue zone” lifestyle living in the western world with the objection of living a longer beautiful life.

Move Naturally

  • Appreciate what nature has to offer by perhaps walking/biking to the local grocery store, rather than driving – take in the fresh air, check out the different trees, flowers and animals along the way, and even smile and say hello to your fellow neighbours.  It may take an extra 30 minutes out of your day, but try to think of it more as giving back to your body and mind – plus simple consistent habits like this could add on 30 minutes + onto your life!
  • Find a team sport that you really enjoy – I started playing beach volleyball last year.  It was the first time I ever gave the sport a-go, and I haven’t stopped since.  I look forward to every game and (win or loss) it releases so many endorphins making me feel like I’m on cloud 9 afterwards.  But its not just the game that makes me happy, it’s also the fun and supportive community that I am now apart of.
  • Play with your pet dog or cat or whatever you have out in the backyard for 20 minutes everyday – turn off your work mode by playing fetch or running around with the cat teaser after work.  Its a great de-stresser and makes your pet very happy and in turn will make you fulfilled.
  • Make house chores more fun – the cleaning has to get done, but why not flick on some of your favourite tunes while vacuuming, mopping or dusting.  If you have to be considerate of others in the house, slap on your earphones!

Right Outlook

  • We tend to encounter a lot of stressful situations in the daily hustle and bustle, whether its being stuck in traffic, trying to meet a deadline at work, or planning your partners surprise party.  When you find yourself in these times, try to stop yourself for a moment, take a couple deep breaths and reflect on the bigger picture.  Tell yourself that these moments will pass – they always do.  The traffic will subside and you will get to your destination, you are going to try your best to finish as much of the workload as you can during the time you have you to do it, and the party will come together flaws and all (we are not perfect and don’t worry because happiness is not dependent on perfection).  Regardless, your partner and loved ones will appreciate the effort and you’ll have a good time just by being in each others company.
  • Try to set aside 10 minute out of everyday to close your eyes, turn off whats going on around and just focus on your breath.  Meditation doesn’t have to be complex.  Once your feeling more clam, continue breathing and begin to think about the things/people in your life that you are most  grateful for – POSITIVE THINKING.  Putting your life into perspective can help to reduce stress.
  • “Don’t sweat the small stuff – and its all small stuff”  as Richard Carlson says. Life is too short to get worked up into the small insignificant things – and there are plenty of them that we are faced with.  Whats most important to you?  Family, friends and the time, love and experiences you share with one another is what counts the most at the end of the day.

Eat Wisely

  • Build a garden and treat it well – fill it up with lots good greens and colourful veggies – tending to your garden is a good workout for the mind and body in more ways than one.
  • Before you eat something, think about what your putting into your body – is your body going to process and appreciate it ? Will it get nourishment and benefit from it?
  • I try to stick to eating foods that do not come from a box, are not frozen and not processed (although I have to admit my weakness is a bag of potato chips!).
  • I also try to make my food from scratch – its not hard to make your own vegetable stock or pasta – it just takes a little bit of planning, and I most say it’s very rewarding when you serve a home cooked meal to your loved ones.  Knowing that your filling them with healthy nourishment is the best feeling, and they will appreciate the effort and (hopefully) the taste!
  • I am a Pescatarian by personal choice, but if you do eat meat that’s fine too, but just try to limit the amount of red meat you consume as most red meat is high in saturated fatty acids (the unhealthy type).
  • Be mindful when eating – remember to stop eating once you think your body is 80% full because it takes your stomach around 15 minutes to process to your brain that you’re actually full.
  • Prepare your plates and put the leftovers away before sitting to eat so you are not tempted to go back for seconds.  The leftovers will not run away and your body will appreciate them much more tomorrow for lunch!


  • Spend time with people that inspire you, make you laugh and ultimately make you a happier person for having them in your life.  These people are the true gems that are keepers.
  • Mutual respect, trust, communication and love with each other is what keeps these relationships going long term.
  • So make sure that you are setting aside time to nurture each of these relationships – your social equity will only continue to appreciate if you do this.
  • If you feel like you need to improve on this area, look up social groups or sporting communities that interest you.  As 104 year old, Marge Dutton, says “a stranger is a friend who I have not met yet”.

What can you – or do you do already – to implement these healthy habits into your everyday life?  I’d love to hear any of your ideas…

* I am not a professional nutritionist or therapist.  My comments above are my own personal experiences and thoughts that I am simply sharing with you.

Above photo courtesy of Australian Geographic