Advice for developing yourself, your style and your life

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Although I've been an eBayer forever, my year of cutting back and my growing consciousness of how much we collectively waste has made me even more in love with eBay as a source for building my wardrobe and refining my style. 

Many people are scared of eBay and in some ways that benefits me because I have less competition when bidding on things I love. However, it is my mission to convince you that your style will improve if you start shopping on eBay, combined with some thoughtful planning and training yourself to have the restraint to wait for the right piece. Here are six things that I always buy on eBay, and will likely do so forevermore:

#1 That thing you should have bought and can't stop thinking about 

Reverse buyer's regret is a real thing. I'd be lying if I said I haven't spent time pining over things I passed on, then went back to buy and they were already gone. 

For example, these J.Crew cage heels. They are fabulous and I should have bought them years ago but they sold out before I could make up my mind. Since then, I've stalked them on eBay and when they finally came up in my size I  pounced on them. With the added benefit of being a fraction of the price new, and the time-tested confidence that buying them would not be a mistake.

Think about that thing you passed on, got a substitute that was never quite right. I bet you can find it on eBay with a little patience. My favorite time for searching these things are when I am in situations when I need to occupy my mind / kill time, such as Sunday Night Football events.

#2 Classic designer handbags 

I'll never buy these new because eBay has them aplenty, at practical prices by highly rated sellers who offer authenticity guarantees. Doing my research on the best bags and refining it down to the best choice is the hard part. Right now, I'm  good on the handbag front but when I'm ready to make an upgrade eBay will be where I get it.

#3 Anything by your favorite designer or retailer

There are a few designers that I love to source on eBay. When you already know you love a particular brand, it's pretty fail-safe to buy pieces from those brands on eBay because you're already familiar with sizing, fit and quality. Many of my favorite items from Vince, Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno are from eBay.

#4 Foreign brands that are hard to get locally

Transit and COS are two of my favorite European brands that are next to impossible to find in the US, so I hunt them on eBay to cure my need to shop. 

#5 Investment shoes 

You can get better quality and more beautiful shoes for the same price or less than what you're paying for a cheap equivalent on eBay. It's important to try on a few pairs of shoes by a particular brand first to get familiar with your size (especially if it is in IT or EU). I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few sales ladies at Nordstrom who were verrrrrry disappointed to see me walk away from $800 shoes to "think about it" (a.k.a. hunt it on the 'Bay).

#6 Fine jewelry

Just like upping the quality of your bags and shoes, you can have nicer jewelry for what you may be paying retail for cheap costume pieces. Buy confidently from a highly rated seller backed by eBay's customer satisfaction policy (which is similar to Amazon). I've gotten a 14k gold chain and sterling silver garnet earrings for a fraction of what they would cost retail. The garnet earrings were particularly satisfying, because I was almost talked into a pair of overpriced ones while traveling. (I think people are willing to spend a premium when traveling to have the ability to snobbishly declare: "Oh these? I got them in Praaaaague because I am cultured and worldly and fancy.") Rather than spend $275 on a pair to be able to make this statement, I got mine on eBay for like $20. And they remind me of the inspiration I found in Prague, and that I didn't get shaken down by the savvy jeweler next to my Airbnb.

To my fellow eBay lovers: what is missing from this list? 

To my hesitant, future eBay loving readers: what's holding you back?



(Special thanks to Becky Howe for the photo of me staring at my cage heels in wonderment.)

The book rumored to have inspired Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard to start his own venture was Charles Haanel's The Master Key System, a series of lessons originally published in 1912 that prescribe a way of thinking  that drives successful outcomes through a focus on harmonious principles, and the ability to concentrate. It is hands-down the best book I've read in years, and has reframed how I think about creative power, positive thinking, time efficiency, health, mental ability and capacity to concentrate.

For those of you not addicted to self-help books yet intrigued by mind control tactics, below is a summary of the takeaways for your reading pleasure slash consideration for improving your own life:

#1 Almost everything about you and your life is a direct product of your thoughts

Your past reactions to external situations, responses to other people, choices on what to put in your body, and control over your mind has led you to your current body and health, lifestyle, relationships, career and overall happiness.

This is a simple concept, but a hard one to accept. However, it sank in for me when I thought about the most challenging times I've had in my life and realized how I'd mostly created them myself by dwelling in a negative mindset, allowing impulses to become actions and ultimately bad choices. It's so much easier to blame external forces, rather than considering how much control I truly have over every aspect of my life.

On the flip side, the most wonderful experiences I've had resulted from positive thoughts, enabling my desires to become actions and ultimately the exactly right choices that led me to my goals.

#2 Your ability to think about HOW you think is the secret to greatness

And the secret to abundant possibility. Taking time to consider why you're thinking in a certain way enables you to adjust your thought pattern. Positive thoughts lead to productivity, and you have the power to program your mind to focus only on those positive, productive thoughts and learn to tune out negative, unproductive thoughts regardless of what internal or external factors trigger them. However, it takes discipline to think about your own mind objectively, which is why most people haven't mastered control of their minds.

Practicing on my own mind, I realized that many of my negative thoughts stem from insecurities and fear. Thinking logically about how my negative thought patterns were unproductive has helped me tremendously. I've started to recognize when they're simmering and have learned to shut them down quickly to pave the way for productive thoughts.

#3 All thought is creative, and every single thought produces some kind of reaction or action

Haanel gives the great example of how thoughts can trigger physical reactions on our bodies. Laughter, tears, and chills are examples we're all familiar with, and can agree that our own thoughts produce these reactions. He takes it a step further with examples of how our thoughts can influence health, that prolonged negative thinking produces actions and reactions that stress our bodies and can lead to disease. Although this isn't a secret (doctors have linked common diseases to lifestyle choices, which of course are driven by thoughts), it's sort of astonishing to think that your body has a physical reaction to your thoughts.

So if we're in agreement that our thoughts can influence our bodies, it's also logical that our thoughts can influence our external environment. For me, I think about how my thoughts led me to walk into an open house all the way to selecting paint colors and filling it with my things. Having a vision in my mind, combined with the positive conviction that my vision would become reality, created a home that I now love out of an ugly-with-good-bones house. We can all think of examples where we've had a vision that we turned to reality out of pure excitement. Haanel suggests that training our minds to apply vision and concentration towards whatever we desire will lead to successful outcomes.

#4 The fastest way to fail to allow negative thoughts to take hold in your mind

If all thought is creative, then negative thought will create negative experiences and repeated, prolonged negative thought will drive you backwards. This is sort of common sense, but something that I never really actively considered. Thinking back to the times in my life when I allowed negative thinking to take hold, I realized that it manifested problems in almost everything about me. The condition of my skin, propensity to get sick, likelihood of a failed date, willingness to engage in an argument, etc. were directly related to my mindset.

Thoughts stemming in anger, jealously, self-pity, helplessness, fear and other negative emotions hold us back, and we have the power to consciously choose to let those thoughts go - and, more importantly - never let them take hold from the start.

#5 We are all connected to a greater mind

There's a passage in the book about the concept of a "Universal Mind" - it's not religious, or philosophical, or scientific - it's just a suggestion that there is a common, universal set of intelligent principles that guide the human progress and are rooted in positive, productive thought. Haanel argues that every successful human being to walk the Earth has in some form or another subscribed to these principles in order to drive their development.

I read this while sitting in the Starbucks at O'Hare, and had this odd realization that the concept of Starbucks started in a human mind and inspired thoughts in other human minds and then exploded into a reality that touches millions of people every hour of every day (and also started a global pumpkin spice trend that sort of scares me). Same thing goes for the concept of communicating via telephony, traveling through the air in a metal tube, selling products via the internet, conducting business on personal computers, breaking a host of colonies free from Great Britain to start America, etc.

In summary, our capacity to align all of our thoughts to positive, intelligent principles and develop a vision on which to concentrate our thoughts is the "master key" to all success. 


Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you'll pick up this book if you're intrigued to learn more on the theory behind these principles. I'm off to go practice mind control, would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!