Saying Thank You in These 7 Situations

Many times, I will read something online and immediately think, “that was great, I wish I wrote it.” I may not have written it, but I can still share it. Here’s the latest…

Make Your Life Better by Saying Thank You in These 7 Situations by James Clear

In the self-help world, we do not need to search very far to find research that shows we can benefit from gratitude. Simply by saying a few extra thank yous, we become happier, healthier and hopeful-ier (not a word, but I was struggling to think of another example that began with h).

So, where can we look to find ways to increase our gratitude? James Clear has the answer. In a great post on, he discusses 7 common situations when we say all sorts of things, but should say “Thank You” instead.

Check it out here. #2 is my favorite.

Why Do We Say “The Butler Did It”?

In literature, few professions get as bad of rap as butlers. We never say, “the teacher was the threat”, “the fisherman caused the fatality” or “the doctor was the destroyer.” Yet, we have all heard the phrase,

The butler did it”

Why is that? Let’s find out in today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

Why Do We Say “The Butler Did It”?

Misbehaving butlers in fiction can be traced back to 1893’s “The Musgrave Ritual” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Despite not being the story’s main villain, the butler is on the wrong side of the law when he tried to rob his employers. Another example comes from 1921 when in “The Strange Case of Mr. Challoner” by Herbert Jenkins the butler is, in fact, the murder.

But neither of those examples get credit for the term “the butler did it.” That distinction belongs to Mary Roberts Rinehart, a famous author and playwright. In 1930, Rinehart published a novel titled The Door, in which the butler is the murderer. Oddly enough, the phrase “the butler did it,” does not appear in that book or any of her other books. Despite that fact, The Door became a major hit and pinning the crime on the butler became a popular detective story trope.

Believe it or not, years later, Rinehart was almost killed by one of her own servants. Here’s the retelling from a Mental Floss article:

In the late 1940s, Rinehart hired a new butler for her summer home in Bar Harbor, Maine, declining to promote her longtime chef into the position, which he had wanted for many years. One day, while Rinehart was reading in her library, the chef walked in wearing a shirt with no jacket, a violation of Rinehart’s dress code for her staff. When she asked him where the rest of his uniform was, the chef screamed, “Here is my coat!” while pulling a handgun from his pocket.”

Luckily for Rinehart, the gun jammed and she escaped to another room. Her chauffeur tackled the gunman and the housemaid removed the weapon. However, the attacker broke free and went after Mary again. This time the gardener saved the day and wrested the chef to the ground.

What a story! Rinehart couldn’t have written it better herself.

5 Things We Can Learn From The NY Times Crossword Puzzle

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

Today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” is a little different. It is inspired by a terrific book by Angela Duckworth called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perservance.

In one section of her book, Duckworth talks about a New York Times article titled “How To Solve The New York Times Crossword Puzzle.” The article is written by Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times. If anyone knows how to solve a puzzle, he’s your man. Duckworth takes elements from this article and applies them to our everyday lives. Similar to what I try to do with this 5 things post.

In order to respect Duckworth’s book, I am not going to copy her work. I am simply going quickly highlight a few points she made and sprinkle in a few of my own. Hopefully this will get you to check out Grit: The Power of Passion and Perservance.

5 Things We Can Learn From The New York Times Crossword Puzzle

1. Start With What You Know

Shortz says, “step 1 in solving any crossword is to begin with the answers you’re surest of and build from there.” Duckworth perfectly illustrates how this same approach can help us find our purpose in life.

2. It is Okay to Guess

Finishing a crossword puzzle is not easy. You won’t have all the answers. You may need to guess. Duckworth shows how there will always been a good amount of trial and error as we look for what we are passionate about.

3. Bring an Eraser

Shortz says we can’t be afraid to erase an answer that isn’t working out. We often hear “to try, try again”, but many times in life, we are wise to cut our losses when we are doing something that isn’t meaningful.

4. Look For Clues

The New York Times crossword puzzle is filled with little hints. There are plenty of hints in our lives as well. We just need to start noticing them.

5. Step Away

According to shorts, “If you get stuck on a puzzle, a time-honored technique is to put it aside and return later. Perhaps the brain works subconsciously on problems in the interim. Whatever the case, a fresh look at a tough puzzle almost always brings new answers.” Substitute life for puzzle and the advice still works.

Who is Reese?

I have seen some impressive inventions during my lifetime — iPads, DVRs, the Doppler Radar, just to name a few. But one new item has topped them all…and it is not even close.

ReeseNo, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. That is, in fact, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup stuffed with Reese’s Pieces. The word “stuffed” has never looked to glorious. If you ever questioned the existence of God, you can stop your pondering now. It had to be divine intervention that blessed us with such an amazing dessert.

Tasting this treat got me wondering about the original Reese. I have been a big fan of this Reese fellow for quite some time and though I greatly enjoy his work, I know nothing about him. Is it even a him? Let’s find out in today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

Who is Reese from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?

If you Google “May 24, 1879” you may not find any groundbreaking results. But, what may have seemed like an otherwise slow news day at the time, would later become an important stamp on our country’s history…or at least our country’s candy bar history.

On that fateful day in York County, Pennsylvania, Harry Burnett “H. B.” Reese was born. Son of a farmer, H.B learned his father’s trade and, in 1917, moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania to work for The Hershey Company. Reese was impressed by Milton Hershey’s work and began experimenting with candies of his own.

In 1923, he started the H. B. Reese Candy Company and just five years later he created his most popular product, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

H.B. Reese died on May 16, 1956, leaving the company to his six sons. In 1963, the Reese brothers merged their father’s company with his mentor, the Hershey Chocolate Corporation. The deal led to a tax-free stock-for-stock merger with the six Reese brothers receiving 666,316 Hershey common shares, valued at the time for $23.5 million. In 2013, after 50 years of stock splits, the original shares account for sixteen million Hershey common shares valued in excess of $1 billion, paying $31 million in annual cash dividends.

I expect that number to quadruple with the creation of this new stuffed candy.

Good News If You Are Feeling Lonely

If you are feeling lonely, I have good news and I have bad news.

Bad news…our brains are very powerful. Good news…our brains are very powerful.

Let me explain…

Have you ever felt alone? Perhaps your best friend moved to Africa or maybe your sister got married and now you are not only looking for a roommate, but you’re also in need of plans for Saturday night for the rest of your life.

Being lonely is no fun. But you know what is worse…feeling lonely.

Studies have shown that feeling isolated or unconnected to others does more bodily damage than actual isolation. At first glance, this seems odd. Wouldn’t it be worse to actually be all by yourself than just feeling alone?

Like I said, our brains are very powerful. They can do damage just by feeling alone.

Thanks a lot brain.

But there is good news…our brains are powerful And we can use that power to our benefit.

Just because your friend moved to the other side of the world or your sister chose to say “I do” to some guy, doesn’t mean that you have to remain feeling lonely.

Research has also found that simply imagining having a conversation with someone has the same impact on your brain as actually talking with them. You can relive past moments of connection and create new ones without them actually being in the room, or continent.

This may sound odd, but I believe it to be true. My grandfather “talks” to my grandmother every night, despite the fact that she has been dead for over two years. I know those conversations mean the world to him and help him feel less lonely.

So, next time you are feeling isolated, (and we are all going to feel it sometime) remember that the other person doesn’t actually have to be there for you to have a conversation with him/her.

Thanks a lot brain.

You Don’t Have To Be Boring

If you were to create a venn diagram of things that are “very important” and “very boring”, an airline’s pre-flight safety demonstration would be found in the intersection.

Venn DiagramAnyone who has flown knows what I am talking about. They are the monotonous instructions given by a flight attendance prior to take off. If I am not already asleep by that time, I am usually lulled to dreamland by someone on the PA system saying something about oxygen masks, flotation devices and emergency exits.

If you have never flown before, just picture the result of chores having a baby with waiting in line at the post office. Cabbage considers it boring.

Yet despite their dullness, they are actually kinda important. Some experts believe that, “up to 30 percent of the deaths in plane crashes are preventable if passengers know what to do.” And the best way for travelers to know what to do is via pre-flight instructions.

So how can someone make something so important less boring?


On a recent flight, I was all set to doze off when the pre-flight safety demonstration began. I turned to the window, lowered the shade and was ready to say goodnight to the world, when suddenly it sounded like Dr. Seuss was on the plane.

The flight attendant performed the entire routine in rhyme. It was catchy, informative and down right funny. Fir the first time in years, I remember paying attention to a flight attendant when he/she wasn’t offering me peanuts.

He even received a rousing ovation from the passengers. Clapping and air travel aren’t usually found together, unless you are Sully Sullenberger or you’re watching the movie Airplane.

This is a good lesson for us. Just because something has been boring for years, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

What is a Code Adam?

Have you ever seen this sign before?

Code_AdamYou may have spotted it displayed on the doors of grocery stories, gas stations and restaurants. It is usually small and off to the side, likely unnoticed by most people.

I, however, always notice it. Unless you’re reading The Bible, or watching the credits of Happy Gilmore, you don’t see the word Adam too often. That is, unless you see it multiple times per day in your email signature. My eyes are trained to spot the word “Adam.”

When I started noticing Code Adam at stores, I thought that maybe I was part of a Jason Bourne-like operation and they were trying to send me a secret message. I kept waiting for a dude in a trench coat to hand me an envelope that would disintegrate once I finished reading it.

Unfortunately, I never received one.

So my search for the meaning of Code Adam continues…until today’s Wonder Why Wednesday.

What is a Code Adam?

Code Adam is a missing child safety program named after Adam Walsh, the 6-year-old son of John Walsh (the host of Fox’s America’s Most Wanted). In 1981, Adam was abducted in Florida from a Sears department store. His body was never recovered.

In 1994, Wal-Mart created Code Adam and in 2003, legislation enacted by Congress began mandating that all federal office buildings employ the program. Employees at these businesses are trained to take the following six steps according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children:

  1. If a visitor reports a child is missing, a detailed description of the child and what he or she is wearing is obtained. Additionally, all exterior access to the building is locked and monitored; anyone approaching a door is turned away.
  2. The employee goes to the nearest in-house telephone and pages Code Adam, describing the child’s physical features and clothing. As designated employees monitor front entrances, other employees begin looking for the child.
  3. If the child is not found within 10 minutes, law enforcement is called.
  4. If the child is found and appears to have been lost and unharmed, the child is reunited with the searching family member.
  5. If the child is found accompanied by someone other than a parent or legal guardian, reasonable efforts to delay their departure will be used without putting the child, staff, or visitors at risk. Law enforcement will be notified and given details about the person accompanying the child.
  6. The Code Adam page will be canceled after the child is found or law enforcement arrives.

10 Foolproof Tricks To Make You More Persuasive

Want to ask someone out on a date? Trying to convincing the boss you deserve a raise? Maybe you are just hoping to talk your spouse into letting you buy Frosted Flakes instead of the healthy cereal that tastes like cardboard.

Whatever the reason, even the most brilliant argument will fall flat if not presented correctly. So, how does one become more persuasive?

Here’s my latest post for Fulfillment Daily, where I discuss ten evidence-based techniques to bring people over to our side.



Why Do We Tell Actors To ‘Break A Leg’?

Just before opening night of Legally Blonde at Bournemouth Pavilion in the UK, actress Rachel Forsdike did something that is said often, but never actually happens on stage…she broke her leg.

I was about to go on for my entrance and, thinking I was going to be late, I went onto the stage in the darkness. I suddenly realized that wasn’t the scene so I quickly turned around to run back off again and ran into one of the flats. It just sent me flying and I fell,” said Forsdike.

It is common to tell actors to “break a leg” before going on stage and apparently, Forsdike is a great listener.

That got me thinking…where did that phrase come from? Why would we wish harm on someone right before their big moment and why do we only do it with actors? Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

Why Do We Tell Actors To ‘Break A Leg’?

The simple answer is that it has been long believed that it is bad luck to wish a performer good luck.

Oddly enough, the phrase may have roots with horse racing. In a 1921 article featured in the New Statesman, a British liberal political and cultural magazine, author Robert Wilson Lynd wrote that theatre was the second-most superstitious institution in England, after horse racing. In horse racing, Lynd wrote, to wish a man luck is considered unlucky, so “You should say something insulting such as, ‘May you break your leg!'”

The first mention relating to theatre can be traced to 1939, when Edna Ferber wrote in her book A Peculiar Treasure, the theatre is filled with superstition “…and all the understudies sitting in the back row politely wishing the various principals would break a leg”.

So, we know why the phrase exists, but why “break a leg”, why those exact words? I can understand the superstition of not wanting to say “good luck”, but can’t you just say something less painful like “go get ’em” or even “I hope you do average.” Why wish such a gruesome injury?

That answer remains unknown. Some speculation attribute it to bowing. The act of taking a bow could resemble someone bending or breaking at the knee. Another popular theory comes from a Yiddish phrase “Hatsloche un Broche.” The phrase means “success and blessing” but it when translating to German, it is commonly misspoken as “Hals- und Beinbruch” which means “neck and leg fracture.” Finally, some folks link the line to an 18th-century performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III, by British actor David Garrick. Garrick injured himself during the play, but was so caught up in the performance that he did not realize it.

Whatever the origin, the phrase is not meant to be taken literally…Rachel.

An Example of Great Writing

The world is full of great writing. So I decided I would highlight some examples whenever I stumble on them. Here’s one I came across from Rules of Civility by Amos Towles.

To begin, Wallace ordered aspic, of all things, and I had the house salad — a terrific concoction of iceberg greens, cold blue cheese and warm red bacon. If I were a country, I would have made it my flag.”

The main character and narrator, Katey, is at dinner with her friend Wallace. The above line describes her order. It would have been fine to say the food was delicious. It would have been ever better to say something like, “the food made my taste buds jump for joy.” However, saying, “If I were a country, I would have made it my flag” is fantastic!

It is such a unique was of describing a salad and it really paints a picture of how much Katey enjoyed the meal.

That is some great writing!