Every year, Oprah Winfrey announces her “favorite” things in her magazine and on television, and those annointed products instantly sell out. Books become best-sellers, companies are launched into the stratosphere (Spanx) and people’s lives are changed for the better.
I’m obviously not Oprah Winfrey, nor do I have her following, but I do have my own favorite things that I think might make your life a little bit better in 2013, or at least a little happier. With no further ado, here they are:
- GetSomeHeadspace — After years of reading and knowing the research on the transformative properties of meditation, I finally found a way to start and follow-through on a meditation practice. GetSomeHeadspace walks you gently through ten minutes of guided meditation for ten days, then fifteen minutes for fifteen, and then twenty minutes. The time seems to pass quickly during the guided meditations, and good habits are instilled as you deepen your experience. I’m not the only person who loves it; many clients and acquaintances say they’ve gotten hooked, too. Apps for your tablet and smartphone make it seamless to keep up your practice anywhere.
- Pulse — To stay up-to-date on a variety of areas ranging from psychology research to technology breakthroughs, I use the app Pulse on my Droid and Motorola tablet. You can breeze through several dozens of the top stories from places like Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal and Scientific American. Without going from site to site, or buying multiple subscriptions, I can easily see headlines and trends that keep me informed about my clients’ professions and what I need to know. Best of all, it’s free.
- Priceline – I know I’ve already raved here about how I used Priceline to write and edit two books in the last few years, as well as occasionally get some quiet time to just recharge my batteries, but it’s so terrific that I have to mention it again. If you name your own price for hotel rooms on Priceline, you can easily cut your hotel costs down by as much as 50%. It’s the cheapest one-night getaway you can find in your own city (if I can get a $43/night hotel room on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. on short notice, anything is possible) and it’s also a vacation staple.
- Fitbit- I have been a pedometer addict for many years, but I’ve lost more of
them than I can count or they’ve had only niggling problems. They’ve been too clunky, too easily dislodged, or they didn’t keep accurate counts at times. I gave up, until I stumbled on Fitbit (thanks to Pulse), the smallest, coolest most accurate pedometer I’ve ever used. It’s so small it can be clipped almost anywhere, and it’s so snug that it just doesn’t jiggle off your waistband or wherever else you have fastened it. It is also wirelessly connected to your computer so that your personalized Fitbit site keeps track of your mileage, sending you a stream of congratuations and smiley faces every time you hit a new milestone. You can even keep track of your friends’ mileage, if you want, turning your daily activity into some healthy competition and accountability. Cost: $60
- SwiMP3 – I am on a swim team and practice at least four times a week, often at 5 am. In order to get this “mastery” experience in before the sun is up or the newspaper is delivered, I have to make it as fun as possible. The SwimP3 does that by giving me a waterproof set of headphones loaded with hundreds of my favorite songs. The device, which uses bone conducting technology, fills my head with happy thoughts and diversion during several hard miles of swimming and is also in my favorite sunny color – yellow. Cost: $160
- The GoodNewsNetwork - Geri Weis-Corbley was a positive psychology enthusiast before the field was even invented. In 1997, sick of being inundated with nothing but bad news in the media, she took her extensive experience in broadcasting and launched “The Good News Network.” Among her goals is to distribute “news to enthuse,” which can arrive in your emailbox daily for a small annual fee which can start as low as $2/month. Given the definitive research on priming – how the things we read/see/hear/smell impact our moods – seeing a blast of good news
could help set you up for a positive day if it’s among the first things you see.
- Airdesk - Not only is my airdesk one of my favorite things, it earned the stamp of approval for one of the top things that can improve your life one year in “U.S. News and World Report.” The airdesk is a simple contraption that consists of a stand and a plexiglass attachment that allows you to do a variety of things – standing, walking on a treadmill, riding an exercise bike, for example – while also working on a laptop/netbook/tablet at the same time. Cost – around $150
- “Making a Difference” – NBC News now ends many nightly broadcasts with a segment called “Making a Difference.” This short feature always tells the story of someone who saw a need and stepped in to “make a difference” in others’ lives. The heart-warming clips show examples such as teaching troubled teens to garden to help them learn how to care for something outside themselves, to restaurants that donate their surplus food to hungry children in the local school system where going hungry at home is the norm. I think that my biggest takeaway is that there are many ways we can improve the world and lives of others if we just open our eyes and hearts to notice where we can help.
There are so many “favorite things” that we all cherish, and no one’s list is ever the same, so I’d love to hear about what other people count as their favorite things and why.