Five National Parks That Are Better in the Winter

There are many perks that come with visiting national parks in the winter: relative solitude, gorgeous snowscapes, and deserted trails that are ideal for trying out snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. It’s a family tradition of ours to head into Rocky Mountain National Park the day after Thanksgiving and burn off those pie calories on the trail.

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However, many of the northerly national parks are walloped with snow in the winter, which buries roads and cuts off access to major attractions.

Not so with these five national parks, which shine in the cooler months. In fact, these are the ones you want to visit when the thermometer takes a dive. Click here to read the article!

How You Make Decisions Could Say a Lot About Your Happiness

A recent Wall Street Journal article revealed an interesting correlation between decision-making and your level of happiness…

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Excerpt from the article:

Psychology researchers have studied how people make decisions and concluded there are two basic styles. “Maximizers” like to take their time and weigh a wide range of options—sometimes every possible one—before choosing. “Satisficers” would rather be fast than thorough; they prefer to quickly choose the option that fills the minimum criteria (the word “satisfice” blends “satisfy” and “suffice”).

“Maximizers are people who want the very best. Satisficers are people who want good enough,” says Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and author of “The Paradox of Choice.”

There’s a quick 13-question test in the article to help you figure out which style decision-maker you are. Although I didn’t need to take the test to know I’m a satisficer through and through.

I’d never thought much about the way I make decisions until I moved in with Mike. I realized we approached decision-making from opposite ends of the spectrum. Mike is a thorough researcher—a maximizer to the max—no matter what kind of a decision he’s making: which campsite we should rent out for an upcoming trip, what brand of TV we should buy, where we should go for happy hour. He’ll have multiple tabs open on his browser, cross-checking consumer reports with Yelp reviews and filtering all his findings until he settles upon The Decision. This process can take hours or DAYS.

Meanwhile, I’m on the couch, Netflixing “Parenthood” and grunting yes or no when appropriate to make it seem like I’m still listening.

After reading the article, I immediately emailed it to Mike, and he responded in kind with a 500-word monologue on what life is like as a maximizer. In his words:  “My extensive research creates high expectations and when what I choose doesn’t live up to those expectations, it stresses me out! I start thinking ‘Man, I should have chosen a different X, Y, or Z’ instead of enjoying who I’m with.”

In contrast to Mike’s maximizing, I always thought I was just incredibly lazy (which, let’s be honest, is still probably the core motivation for my satisficing). I’m content with doing five minutes of research—or none at all—before going with my gut. And it turns out satisficers tend to be happier with their decisions in the long run than maximizers.

Alas, before you fellow satisficers get all high and mighty (you can gloat for a minute or two), this study also states that maximizers tend to hold better jobs and make more money. They just also happen to be less satisfied with those jobs because they think something better is out there.

This is why it’s important to marry someone who balances you out, if you’re on one side of the decision-making spectrum. Mike will happily put in the hours of research for big purchases—and I get to reap the benefits and feel like we’re making a sound choice without doing a lick of work.

In turn, I go with my gut and make rapid-fire decisions when Mike is paralyzed with indecision. And in his words,  I give him “an immediate sense of relief” with my quick stamp of approval or dismissal.

What about you—are you a maximizer or a sufficer? Are you dating someone who makes decisions in a similar manner?

(Photo via Mother of Pearls of Wisdom)

5 Reasons You Need to Visit Croatia (Now with Pictures!)

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WordPress reverted to my previous save, without the pictures. Here’s the post, with the pictures! It’s nearly two months to the day that Mike and I returned from a two-week sojourn through Croatia and Italy. The original plan was to meet up with a group of friends in Rome and then saunter down the Italian […]

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Friday Round-Up: October 10, 2014

I haven’t been posting with any regularity lately (I wish I had an excuse other than a full plate, but that’s all I can come up with!). But I came across too many good links this week to skip out on the round-up. – Buy experiences, not things. – Four sisters, captured in 40 portraits […]

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Friday Round-Up: September 19, 2014

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Well hello there! It’s been a hectic week ’round these parts as we settle into our new neighborhood in Chicago. I’m absolutely loving the location so far, even if we are surrounded by boxes like a bonafide episode of “Hoarders.” Hey, we’ll get there eventually, right? (RIGHT?) – 20 of the world’s most spectacular train stations. – […]

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Friday Round-Up: September 12, 2014

Happy Friday! – If it doesn’t make you say “Hell yeah!”, then say no. Great advice. – Rachel McAdams might be starring in Season 2 of “True Detective.” – The most photogenic fox. – Secrets about Chicago that you might not know. – How much the “Friends” apartment and “Full House” home would cost in real […]

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What Hobby Would You Take Up If You Had Endless Time and Money?

I climbed a route with a camera strapped to my back to get this shot of my friend Brian on another route.

If time, money, and location were no object, is there a hobby that you would try to master? I’d love to learn to play the piano, tend a blooming garden, and become a whiz on the tennis court. But I also have an answer that’s a bit more unconventional: rock climbing. Hear me out. In […]

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Friday Round-Up: September 5, 2014

Oh my god, it’s September. Time’s a-wastin’. Happy weekend! – 10 smart things you should do in your 20s. – Yao Ming lends his celebrity to encourage his fellow Chinese citizens to help save the elephants of Africa. Go Yao! – How to make friends after college. – 19th century bridal superstitions. – In scary news: Two […]

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How To Find Your Signature Scent

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Do you have a signature scent? With certain perfumes, all it takes is one whiff on a busy street in Chicago and I can immediately picture a friend or family member who regularly wears that fragrance. Even if I don’t know the name of the perfume! The olfactory gland is an amazing thing. I love the […]

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Friday Round-Up: August 29, 2014

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Oh how I wish I was still in Europe. I’ll share some more photos and stories from that trip soon. In the meantime, I’m going to sigh wistfully at this picture of the view of Old Town Dubrovnik from the balcony of our room. Happy Labor Day weekend! I’m off to Michigan with Mike, my sister, […]

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