O's 101 Best Pieces of Advice

All the wisdom you need to do almost everything better...and while you're at it, feel happier, healthier, more chic, less stressed, and ready to take on the world.

How to Bank in the Digital Age

My research shows that people who balance their checkbooks are happier—and others have found that people who bank online check their accounts four times more often than those who don’t. (You do the math.) Being able to check financial activity in real time helps combat identity theft and lets you cancel incorrect charges before they get costly. Plus, e-statements are hard to misplace. Buy a zipper-compartment wallet, save your receipts, and at the end of each week, reconcile the transactions with your online statements. You can also sign up with a free personal finance management site like Mint or Manilla, which will display your records from various accounts in one place. Best of all: Your bank might even give you a break on fees for banking online.

—Jean Chatzky, finance expert

How to Forgive Yourself

You have to find a way forward. You can say, "I'm going to work to improve myself so I never hurt another person that way." And then you need to atone, to make the lesson you learned mean something. Do this, and you will be able to look in the mirror again.

—Jennifer Thompson, rape victim whose testimony sent the wrong man to prison for ten years

How to Listen Better

Start by doing everything you can to fire up the "mirror neurons" in your brain, which mimic what others are experiencing. You can subtly imitate the other person's posture, even match the pace and depth of their breathing. Your words can also mirror what the other person is telling you. For example, you might say, "What I'm hearing is that it distresses you when your husband wears his tiara in public" or "Wow, I can tell just from your voice that you're under serious pressure." Don't add advice or commentary—just reflect. If you simply must add something, ask the speaker to disconfirm what you say. In other words, ask to be told where you're mistaken—and mean it. "I'm thinking it's not so much that you're embarrassed as that you want a tiara of your own—am I wrong about that?" Do not ask to be told that you're right; it turns a listening ear into a bid for authority, and no one will want to talk to you then.

—Martha Beck, O's resident life coach and author of Finding Your Way in a Wild New World

How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

I absolutely do not like working out. I struggle every morning. I'll wake up and think, I do not want to train today, but I tolerate the gym for an hour three mornings a week. It's that first step—getting out the door—that's the toughest. If you can do that, you've already won.

—Mary J. Blige, singer

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at the Doorbell

Your dog excitedly runs to the door because that's what you do! The trick is to get her to go to a new spot. Start by picking up a treat; once you have her attention, say, "Go to the rug" as you toss the treat onto that spot. As she's eating, say, "Good, rug"; then give her the "stay" command. Practice this—gradually replacing treats with praise—until she's got the hang of it. Then phase in the doorbell.

—Colleen McDaniel, founder of the Academy of Canine Behavior in Bothell, Washington

How to Find Inspiration in Unexpected Places

I grew up in Covington, Kentucky, a town where, during Prohibition, people came to get their booze, get their women, and gamble. It was still somewhat seedy when I was a child in the 1950s, but mostly it was just poor. My father was a bartender and my mother a housewife, and when I was 4 and 5 years old, one of the few treats we could afford was a trip to White Castle. I loved playing with the boxes the hamburgers came in, which were shaped like miniature castles, with little turrets, and said WHITE CASTLE in gothic script. Flash forward a few decades, and I'm working every day with the kind of art that features turreted castles—I curate medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.

Years ago at a dinner at the Morgan, an East Coast patron asked me how a boy from Kentucky got interested in illuminated manuscripts. Instantly, the White Castle box popped into my head. If you'd told me when I was 6, "Someday you'll work in a museum surrounded by fantastic art from the Middle Ages," I'd have said it was as likely I'd work on Mars. Life's inspiration can come from anywhere. Even a piece of trash.

—Roger Wieck, curator at the Morgan Library & Museum

How to Handle Haters

Focus on creating more happiness in your daily life—so the hater has less power.

—Perez Hilton, gossip blogger

How to Keep Bouquets Fresh Longer

Hydration is critical to roses, so remove water-monopolizing thorns and leaves. Then dip the cut stems in boiling water for a few seconds before plunging them into cold water.

Tulips droop because they keep growing even after their stems have been cut. To stop the growth and keep them perky, prick a pin through the stem beneath the flower's head.

At full bloom, peonies rarely last more than a day or two, so buy them when they're only slightly open. If they're tight like golf balls, massage the heads to speed them along.

—Eileen Johnson, director of FlowerSchool New York and author of Tropical Flowers

O Readers Share Their Favorite Words of Wisdom

Never go to bed angry.

—Linda Davis

O Readers Share Their Favorite Words of Wisdom

Remember that power tools are very unforgiving.

—Sue Servatius