Waltz off into wedded bliss to one of these favorite first-dance songs
The first dance is one of the most anticipated and intimate moments of a wedding, so it’s no surprise that finding the right tune can feel challenging, even downright daunting. Well, start here: To narrow down your choices, we asked Real Simple’s Facebook fans to share their own first dance songs, then tallied up the 1,500+ responses to determine their 50 most popular tunes. Want to hear them? Log in to Spotify for our free playlist.
1. “At Last,” Etta James
2. “Colour My World,” Chicago*
3. “Amazed,” Lonestar
4. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Elvis Presley
5. “Unchained Melody,” the Righteous Brothers
6. “From This Moment On,” Shania Twain
7. “Could I Have This Dance,” Anne Murray
8. “Bless the Broken Road,” Rascal Flatts
9. “Unforgettable,” Nat King Cole
10. “My Best Friend,” Tim McGraw
11. “Have I Told You Lately?,” Van Morrison
12. “Wonderful Tonight,” Eric Clapton
13. “By Your Side,” Sade
14. “Endless Love,” Lionel Richie and Diana Ross
15. “The Way You Look Tonight,” Frank Sinatra
16. “When You Say Nothing At All,” Alison Krauss
17. “Just the Way You Are,” Billy Joel
18. “Always and Forever,” Heatwave
19. “What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong
20. “All of Me,” John Legend
21. “I Only Have Eyes for You,” the Flamingos
22. “I’ll Be,” Edwin McCain
23. “Lucky,” Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat
24. “Always,” Atlantic Starr
25. “We’ve Only Just Begun,” the Carpenters
26. “Into the Mystic,” Van Morrison
27. “In My Life,” the Beatles*
28. “Let’s Stay Together,” Al Green
29. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith
30. “God Gave Me You,” Blake Shelton
31. “I Could Not Ask for More,” Edwin McCain
32. “Your Song,” Elton John
33. “You Are the Best Thing,” Ray LaMontagne
34. “It Had to Be You,” Harry Connick Jr.
35. “You & Me,” Dave Matthews Band
36. “The Luckiest,” Ben Folds
37. “She’s Everything,” Brad Paisley
38. “Lady in Red,” Chris De Burgh
39. “You and Me,” Lifehouse
40. “Grow Old With You,” Adam Sandler
41. “I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz
42. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Frankie Valli
43. “Feels Like Home,” Chantal Kreviazuk
44. “Fly Me to the Moon,” Frank Sinatra
45. “Annie’s Song,” John Denver
46. “Come Away With Me,” Norah Jones
47. “God Only Knows,” the Beach Boys
48. “Free,” Zac Brown Band
49. “Stand by Me,” Ben E. King
50. “Yellow,” Coldplay
*Unfortunately, this song is not available for streaming on Spotify.
These healthy, homemade treats are ready to fuel your commute
1. Peanut Butter Granola: Maple sugar sweetens old-fashioned rolled oats and roasted peanuts. Get the recipe.
2. Whole-Grain Banana Muffins: Grab-and-go muffins are made healthier with Greek yogurt and flax meal. Get the recipe.
3. Creamy Mango Smoothie: Could breakfast get any easier? This tropical-flavored drink is ready in just five minutes. Get the recipe.
4. Avocado Toast: Here’s a benefit to starting your day with toast topped by creamy avocado: The fruit is loaded with fiber plus cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats. Get the recipe.
5. Bacon-Cheddar Grits: When there’s no time to eat at home, grits (and the parfait on the next slide) can be transported easily: Pack them in a spillproof jelly jar or a reusable container with a tight-fitting lid. Get the recipe.
6. Almond Butter, Yogurt and Fruit Parfait: Not an almond butter fan? Swap in peanut butter. You can also use agave nectar in place of the honey. Get the recipe.
7. Single-Serving Sausage Stratas: You can vary the taste of these delicious little all-in-one breakfasts with the sausages you use. Get the recipe.
8. Open-Faced Egg and Tomato Baguette: Think of this as a whole new (and healthy) take on the breakfast sandwich. Get the recipe.
9. Breakfast Burrito: Just wrap the egg-filled tortilla in foil straight from the pan and head out the door. So much better than hitting the fast-food drive-up. Get the recipe.
10. Spiced Oat and Pear Scones: Nutmeg gives golden scones a slightly spicy, slightly nutty flavor. Get the recipe.
Breaking up isn’t just for romantic partners—here’s how to know if it’s time to cut ties
Filling your life with supportive friends is seriously good for your health. In fact, one 10-year long Australian study showed that participants with solid friend groups were 22% more likely to live longer, and researchers at Harvard concluded that happiness was almost “infectious” amongst friends who lived within a mile of each other.
Every now and then, however, a friend grates at your patience, sanity, and overall happiness. While small infractions often pass, or can be resolved by talking it out, sometimes it comes time for a friend “breakup.” It’s something many women dread or delay—but why do we hang onto friends that are clearly no good?
“There’s a social stigma over ending friendships,” says Dr. Irene S. Levine, psychologist and author of Best Friends Forever. “There are no scripts or rules, so people are at a loss for how to go about it.” If you’re in denial, here are a few warning signs to watch for. Recognize a friend in one of these scenarios? It might be time to have “the talk.”
1. She needs you for absolutely everything.
While a friend who depends on you doesn’t seem like cause for concern, too much neediness can exhaust you and use up one of your most important resources: time.
“Women tend to rely on their friends more heavily for emotional sustenance,” says Levine. “But if someone is constantly depending on you, that’s when it’s toxic.” That neediness can range from acting as her consultant on decisions both big and small, to, in more extreme cases, becoming her main source for financial assistance. We all lean on our friends for support, but if you’re persistently serving as her crutch, beware.
2. You dread seeing her, and you’re relieved when she leaves.
Keep in mind: “Friendships are voluntary relationships,” says psychologist and self-help author Dr. Laura Sapadin. “Nobody makes you be a friend.” So if you’re purposefully ignoring her calls or trying to come up with excuses to get out of your lunch date, it might time to break up.
3. You’re both in constant conflict (and not just the obvious kind).
It’s not just about arguing all the time—although if you two have started to make the Real Housewivesseem tame, that’s definitely cause for concern. Conflict can manifest in other places—like your schedules. If your friend doesn’t make time for you the way you carve out time for her, then she might not value your friendship.
4. You suffer from “friendship whiplash.”
Some toxic friendships jump back and forth between great and awful—that inconsistency can be a red flag.
“The unpredictability takes a toll on you,” says Levine. “It can make you anxious, nervous, or depressed when you don’t know what to expect from a friend whom you’re supposed to rely on.”
5. You’re experiencing “symptoms.”
Friendships can boost your mental and physical health, but bad friendships can do the opposite. According to Levine, if you begin to suffer headaches or stomach cramps after getting together or in anticipation of seeing your friend, the relationship is doing more harm than good.
6. She can’t see her own flaws.
Sapadin calls this “enaction”: You finally confront your friend for being accusatory and demeaning, and she fires back with, “You’re too sensitive!” A good friend should seem open-minded and willing to acknowledge problems.
“If the response shows they don’t get it, then you know this relationship is not one you want to continue,” Sapadin says.
7. She betrays your trust.
“Women get very invested in their friends because they share so much of their lives with them,” says Levine. So, when your friend betrays that bond, don’t ignore a gut feeling that tells you it’s a big deal. Trust isn’t trivial—and any betrayal is a sign to reevaluate the relationship.
Sapadin agrees: “This can abruptly end a friendship, and it only has to happen once.”
Few tasks feel more Sisyphean than trying to convince people to reexamine their beliefs. Here, five deft practitioners of the art of gentle persuasion explain how to make anyone think twice
This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
Conduct an Interview
When they’re trying to change someone’s mind, people often assert their position and then dig in. I think it’s better to backpedal a bit first and pose open-ended questions. That way, you’ll discover how you can both get what you want. Say you and your husband disagree on vacation plans: He wants to go camping; you prefer a nice hotel. Ask him, What’s important about going camping? What do you love about it? How important is it to do that with the family? Would you be interested in having a separate camping trip with your friends? Try to discover his interests and needs. That can help you come up with something that’s mutually agreeable. Maybe you’ll decide that the vacation is five days camping and two days in a hotel on the way back.
Lisa Gates, a negotiation consultant and coach, is the cofounder of SheNegotiates.com. She lives in Santa Barbara, California.
Reframe the Debate
President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood that people living through the Depression were afraid that things would only get worse and that they would lose what little they had. Rather than addressing those fears directly, he announced, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This reframing paved the way for his first reforms and the New Deal. Follow that lead. If you find a way to recast the subject at hand so that the person is prompted to think about things differently, you are far more likely to make a long-term impact.
Howard Gardner is a professor of cognition and education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and the author of Changing Minds ($18, barnesandnoble.com). He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Make It Their Idea
In a discussion, there’s often something that both parties agree upon. Identify that common ground, then take the idea and move it to a place where you want to go. You might say, “What naturally follows from your idea A is B, C, and D. What do you think of that?” And try to give them credit for thinking about B, C, and D. The smartest technique, if you can pull it off, is to convince your opponent that the solution you want is really their idea. Francis Underwood does this on House of Cards. He also blackmails and kills people, but this is actually his most persuasive tactic.
Barry Scheck is a cofounder of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted prisoners. He lives in New York City.
Customize Your Talking Points
People live very busy lives, and information is thrown at them throughout the day. If you want to get someone’s attention, appeal to her specific needs or interests. For example, before I asked a young person to register to vote, I had to communicate what was at stake for her, whether it was making college more affordable, climbing the economic ladder, or addressing climate change—all things that young people care about. To persuade successfully, you have to understand people’s situations and where they are coming from. Really, that’s more than half the battle.
Stephanie Cutter is a cohost of CNN’s Crossfire and the former deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama. She is also a founding partner of Precision Strategies, a brand consultancy. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Cop to the Holes in Your Argument
When you are battling someone to win, you are not truly persuading someone. It’s like that old saying, “One convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Instead, be up-front about the drawbacks to your argument and address them. When you do that, you accomplish two things: You signal that you understand the full complexity of the argument; you’re not just regurgitating glib talking points. And you show people that you’re honest. Instead of giving only the points that make your case, you’re addressing the whole spectrum of argument. This makes you more trustworthy and therefore easier to listen to.
Megan Mcardle is a columnist for Bloomberg View and the author of The Upside of Down ($16, barnesandnoble.com). She lives in Washington, D.C.
The results are in—see which diners have the deepest pockets.
This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
In 2014, the National Restaurant Association expects restaurants to hit a record-breaking $683.4 billion in sales, and 40 percent of Americans think of dining out as an essential part of their lifestyle. Food & Wine zeroed in on American dining habits in their “quasi-scientific, potentially controversial” survey of America’s Favorite Food Cities, and, in particular, found which cities don’t skimp on gratuity.
When it comes to tipping, New York City has the most generous diners, followed by Chicago and Las Vegas. Milwaukee also made the list, along with Portland, Maine. Earlier this year, Square, a mobile wallet, released data on users’ tipping habits, and many of the same cities made the list, based on the percentage of customers that tip and how much they leave.
Which Cities Have the Best Tippers?
New York City
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Tamron Hall, and Linda McMahon share important advice.
This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
Back in August, Real Simple partnered with TIME for a poll of 1,000 women (and 300 men) to find out how they really defined “success.” Some of the results confirmed what we already know, like that motherhood has a big impact on how women view their success. Others were more surprising—it seemed like being “good” at their jobs was more important to the women surveyed than the men. But the biggest finding was that women seemed to lack confidence, even though almost 80 percent of them thought it was important to finding success. So we gathered together successful, confident women for a panel discussion Wednesday night about how allwomen can achieve their goals.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Frozen songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez, TODAY’s Tamron Hall, and former CEO of WWE Linda McMahon joined editors-in-chief Kristin van Ogtrop and Nancy Gibbs to talk about success (and failures), and how women can build confidence. Here’s what we learned:
1. “Don’t be afraid to take a risk because you’re afraid you might fail.” –Linda McMahon
2. “Being in the moment is my path, my guide, to anything that’s right.” –Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Lopez offered this advice to those who are overcome with anxiety about finding success—so much so that they are unable to enjoy the present.
3. “What are you ‘having?’ A party? Another slice of pie? … What we’re really talking about is doing it all. How do we help women do all the things they want to do?” -Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the idea of women “having it all”
4. “Don’t try to follow the exact steps of anyone… Where you’re going is the right direction.” –Tamron Hall
Everyone’s path to success is not the same—Hall herself had many jobs and many rejections before landing where she is today.
5. “If we raise each other up around the world, I guarantee the world will be so awesome.” –Kristen Anderson Lopez
6. “To have success today is to look around and see that we’re putting smiles on other people’s faces.” –Linda McMahon
McMahon no longer defines success by money or appearance—there are more important ways to feel successful.
7. “Failure is a gift. If you’re willing to fail, you won’t only learn faster, but ‘fear’ is eliminated.” –Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
8. “Life in itself, I think, keeps you from feeling entitled… unless you’re just a jackass.” –Tamron Hall
When asked if parents should worry about making their daughters feel too special, Hall shared these wise (and hilarious) words.
9. “Look at what you’re doing in your free time. Whatever it is that draws you—listen to and follow that voice.” –Kristen Anderson-Lopez
10. “Be exactly yourself.” –Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Because young women should never waste time worrying about what others think.
If you’re chained to a desk all day, you’re likely to feel the effects on body and mood. A few workspace tweaks can help.
This post originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
The average employed American adult spends well over a third of the day working—and more often than not, those eight-hours-plus aren’t healthy ones, loaded with sedentary behavior, sugary office snacks and bleak cubicle walls. The good news? A few simple tricks can improve your on-the-clock well-being.
Go Green at Your Desk
In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that office plants were linked with a 15% productivity boost. Scientists in the UK and Netherlands studied offices over several months, and their research showed that greenery increased employee-reported levels of satisfaction and concentration, as well as subjective perceptions of air quality. So go ahead and get a low-maintenance plant for your desk (just don’t forget to water it!).
Look Out the Window
In June, researchers at Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that workers who were exposed to natural light during the workday experienced higher quality sleep and overall better quality of life than those whose only source of light was their computer screen. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, focused on “white light exposure,” which came through office windows, and found employees who worked near windows received 173% more white light and slept 46 more minutes on average than those whose offices lacked windows. If you don’t have the corner office, try to eat lunch outside or near a window, and schedule meetings near natural light to get your fix.
Since 1950, American workplaces have become 83% more sedentary, and the average workweek is almost 47 hours long. All that extra sitting comes at a steep health price—like increased risks of cancer, heart attack, or weight gain. But some simple tricks can help even the most idle desk jockey get moving. Some ideas: Take hourly laps around the office or ditch your chair or create a “standing desk.” And stop slouching! Practice these simple moves to develop better posture at your desk.
A new study suggests the mistakes people make before getting married may hurt marital satisfaction down the line.
This post originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
It’s no secret that dating can be tricky to navigate. The many questions—Is it too soon to be intimate? Should we move in together?—are plentiful and often uncomfortable to talk about. And now findings froma new report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia don’t help to ease the pressure: Your likelihood for a happy marriage may be tied to the decisions you make before tying the knot.
The study, which tracked more than 1,000 Americans ages 18 to 34 who were not married but in a relationship for five years, suggest many couples now “slide” into relationship decisions. For example, rather than having a serious discussion about moving in together, one partner may slowly start spending the night at the other person’s place until they eventually spend so much time together that the decision to cohabitate happens on a more subconscious level.
“We believe that one important obstacle to marital happiness is that many people now slide through major relationship transition—like having sex, moving in together, getting engaged or having a child—that have potentially life-altering consequences,” Scott M. Stanley, co-author of the study and senior fellow for both the National Marriage Project and the Institute for Family Studies, said in a release.
The data suggests couples who have thorough conversations and make deliberate decisions together may be better poised to forge stronger commitments and follow through on them. The researchers also add that the findings may imply that couples who make deliberate decisions are better at communicating, a vital skill for relationship satisfaction.
If you make one of the biggest relationship decisions—the choice to marry—the report found that the size of the wedding might also have an impact on marital bliss. Among those surveyed who had weddings, couples who invited 150 guests or more reported feeling happier with their marriage. The fewer the number of guests, the less happy the couple appeared to be: just 31 percent of those who had weddings of 50 or fewer attendees reported high marital quality.
“One possibility here is that couples with larger networks of friends and family may have more help, and encouragement, in navigating the challenges of married life. Note, however, this finding is not about spending lots of money on a wedding party, it’s about having a good number of friends and family in your corner,” W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, said in the release.
Stanley and fellow researchers hope the findings will remind Americans considering marriage to make decisions wisely: “Our bottom-line advice to Americans hoping to marry is this: Remember that what you do before you say ‘I do’ may shape your odds of forging a successful marital future.”
A wardrobe fail doesn’t have be as spectacular as a popped zipper to affect how others view your work. Even loose threads can raise suspicions of loose ends on your report.
This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
Buttons and buttonholes are notorious. Also snip away stragglers at the hem.
No time to bust out the shoe polish? Give the leather a quick buffing with the microfiber cloth that you use for dusting.
Bring them to a cobbler. Meanwhile, disguise nicked areas with a permanent marker of the same color.
Dingy White Shirts
Don’t try to get a second wearing out of anything white. “Any residue of perspiration, lotion, or perfume easily discolors the fabric if it sits too long, so launder immediately after wearing,” says Steve Boorstein, the founder of TheClothingDoctor.com. To return a yellowed garment to its former glory, wash it in a sink in the hottest water that the fabric will allow using an ounce of oxygen bleach (such as OxiClean; $8 at drugstores) for every gallon of water; let soak from 30 minutes to two hours.
Sweaters With Fuzz Balls
Target the high-abrasion areas (underarms, cuffs, the sides of the torso, and wherever the strap of your handbag hits) with an electric fabric shaver, which will work better than the manual options. (Try Evercare; $9, amazon. com.) “Place one hand underneath the sweater and depill with the other hand,” says Boorstein. “That way, you won’t apply too much pressure and thin out the knit.” In a pinch, use a single-blade razor—gently, please!
Wipe dull or scratched leather with a clear leather conditioner (like Leather Spa; $10, leatherspa.com). Also check for frayed stitches, which tend to start on the handles.