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Recognize Excellence to Make a Difference

Recognize Excellence to Make a Difference

Recognize Excellence to Make a Difference

    It was Monday, December 29 and I wasn’t happy.  I had spent part of the morning at home working on odds and ends and another part of the morning at the office working on a book review and a few other things.  I was in a funk because I’d forgotten to answer an email from a friend and mentor asking about having lunch today, I had a billion little things to do, and to top it off, I had to go to the local inspection station for a third emissions test to see if the $560 or so I had plowed into my 1995 Saturn had reduced my hydrocarbon emissions enough to please the City of Memphis (it didn’t; about $300-$400 later, it finally did).  Comfort food is a natural human weakness that is especially appealing when one isn’t happy.  I opted for Taco Bell.

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    I pulled into the drive-thru and fully expected my order to be handled with outright belligerence, as had been my experience at other fast food outlets recently.  I was surprised, nay, shocked, when the person who took my order was genuinely cheerful, clear, and helpful. I was further surprised to find that my food was hot, my order was 100% correct, and my takeout bag included a wet nap and a mint.  Not bad for less than $4.

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    I resolved then and there that I would find out how I could recognize the service I had received.   I wrote the first draft of this while waiting in line to have my car checked; since I bought a MacBook Air a few months ago, I can type from the “comfort” of my driver’s seat, and after returning home from a recent trip I visited the feedback website and let them know how happy I was with my experience.

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    This speaks to a larger issue that will be of interest to Lifehack readers: how do we get the most bang for our buck in our charitable endeavors? As a citizen, I want to help those who are less well-off than I am.  As an economist, however, I am all too aware of the law of unintended consequences and the frequency with which our charitable endeavors actually work to the detriment of those we wish to help.  Tyler Cowen has an excellent discussion of this in his 2007 book Discover Your Inner Economist: he notes that in parts of India, people actually pay to have limbs amputated in order to increase their begging take.  This is positively destructive, so the concerned citizen interested in maximizing bang for his or her charitable buck will want to look for ways to transfer resources without distorting incentives.

    One way to do this is by providing positive feedback where it is warranted.  Few people taking orders at fast food restaurants will be in the same position in a few years, and employers are always looking for ways to identify talent.  Giving credit where credit is due is one way to help people get a leg up in life.  In addition, markets work more efficiently the more valuable information is available.

    There are added benefits, too.  As a college professor, I try to teach my students the ability to offer constructive criticism.  I regularly ask students to send me an email at the end of the semester detailing what they liked the most and what they liked the least about my courses.  Providing feedback on customer service when it is requested (or when it is appropriate) is an easy way to practice giving constructive feedback while helping people who deserve it.

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    Last Updated on October 17, 2019

    How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

    How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

    You see your partner every single day. They are the first person you talk to in the morning and the last person you kiss goodnight.

    But does seeing each other day in and day out equal a healthy relationship? Not necessarily.

    Spending quality time with your partner is the best way to ensure your relationship stays healthy and strong. This means going above and beyond sitting together while you watch Netflix or going out for the occasional dinner. You deserve more from your relationship – and so does your spouse!

    What does quality time mean? It means spending time with your spouse without interruption. It’s a chance for you to come together and talk. Communication will build emotional intimacy and trust.

    Quality time is also about expressing love in a physical way. Not sex, necessarily (but that’s great, too!) but through hand-holding, cuddling, caressing, and tickling. Studies show that these displays of affection will boost partner satisfaction.[1]

    So how do you spend quality time with your partner? Here are 13 relationship tips on making the most out of your time with your partner.

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    1. Recognize the Signs

    If you want a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to recognize the signs that you need to spend more quality time together.

    Some telltale signs include:

    • You’re always on your phones.
    • You value friendships or hobbies over quality time with your spouse.
    • You aren’t together during important events.
    • You are arguing more often or lack connection.
    • You don’t make plans or date nights.
    • You’re not happy.

    If you are experiencing any of these relationship symptoms, know that quality time together can reverse the negative effects of the signs above.

    2. Try New Things Together

    Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument or speak another language? How about skydive or ballroom dance?

    Instead of viewing these as solo hobbies and interests, why not involve your partner?

    Trying new activities together builds healthy relationships because it encourages spouses to rely on one another for emotional and physical support.

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    Shared hobbies also promote marital friendship, and the Journal of Happiness Studies found that marital satisfaction was twice as high for couples who viewed each other as best friends.[2]

    3. Schedule in Tech-Free Time

    Your phone is a great way to listen to music, watch videos, and keep up-to-date with friends and family. But is your phone good for your relationship?

    Many couples phone snub, or ‘phub’, one another. Studies show that phubbing can lower relationship satisfaction and increase one’s chances of depression.[3]

    Reduce those chances by removing distractions when spending quality time together and showing your partner they have your full attention.

    4. Hit the Gym as a Couple

    One way you can spend more time together as a couple is by becoming workout partners. Studies show that couples are more likely to stay with their exercise routine if they work out together.[4] Couples also work out harder than they would solo. One study found that 95 percent of couples who work out together maintained weight loss compares to the 66 percent of singles who did.[5]

    Join a gym, do at-home couples’ workouts, try couples yoga, hit the hiking trails, or get your bikes out. No matter which way you choose to exercise, these healthy activities can promote a healthy relationship.

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    5. Cook Meals Together

    Pop open a bottle of wine or put some romantic music on while you get busy – in the kitchen, of course!

    One of the best relationship tips for spending quality time together when you both have busy schedules is to cook meals together.[6]

    Spice things up and try and prepare a four-course meal or a fancy French dish together. Not only is this a fun way to spend your time together, but it also promotes teamwork.

    If all goes well, you’ll have a romantic date night meal at home that you prepared with your four hands. And if the food didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, you are guaranteed to have a laugh and create new memories together.

    6. Have a Regular Date Night

    Couples experience a greater sense of happiness and less stress when they are spending quality time together.[7] One of the biggest relationship tips for a healthy partnership is to include a date night in your weekly routine.

    The National Marriage Project found that having a weekly date night can make your relationship seem more exciting and helps prevent relationship boredom.[8] It also lowers the probability of divorce, improves your sex life, and increases healthy communication.

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    Some great ideas for what to do on your date night include:

    • Have a movie marathon – Gather up your favorite flicks and cuddle up on the couch.
    • Play games together – Cards, board games, video games, and other creative outlets are a fun way to spend quality time together.
    • Recreate your first date – Go back to that restaurant and order the same meal you did when you first got together. You can spice up your evening by pretending you’re strangers meeting for the first time and see how sexy the night gets.
    • Plan a weekend getaway – There’s nothing better than traveling with the one you love.
    • Dinner and a movie – A classic!
    • Try a new restaurant – Make it your mission to rate and try all of the Mexican restaurants/Irish pubs/Italian trattorias in your area.
    • Have a long sex session – Intimacy promotes the release of the oxytocin hormone which is responsible for a myriad of great feelings.[9]

    Here’re even more date night ideas for your reference: 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples

    Final Thoughts

    The benefits of spending quality time together are endless. Here are just some of the ways it can contribute to a healthy relationship:

    • Improves emotional and physical intimacy
    • Lowers divorce rates
    • Improves communication
    • Reduces marital boredom
    • Bonds couples closer
    • Improves friendship
    • Boosts health
    • Reduces stress

    These are all excellent reasons to start making date night a regular part of your week.

    It’s easy to have a healthy relationship when you set aside dedicated time to share with your spouse. Try new things together, make your spouse your workout buddy, and look for innovative ways to be close and connected.

    These relationship tips will bring great benefits to your marriage.

    Featured photo credit: Allen Taylor via unsplash.com

    Reference

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