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Resilient People November 1, 2007

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 9:39 pm

 

Stress Hardiness, Optimizing stress, Being Fully Alive
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   Traits of Stress-Hardy, Resilient People

  1. They have a sense of meaning, direction, and purpose. They are value-centered rather than reactive and defensive. They understand that emotions are great sources of energy and motivation but are often poor guides for action. Instead these people use their values as guides.
  2. They realize that the quality of our lives depends on how we focus our attention and our energy. They try to align their thoughts and actions with their values. They know how to motivate themselves to take action.
  3. They don’t judge themselves or others harshly when things go wrong. They focus on what they want, not on what they don’t want.
  4. They are able to tolerate ambiguity, uncertainty, and imperfection. They have a long-range perspective, so they give themselves and others room to grow. They can afford to be resilient, flexible, and creative because they are centered in their values.
  5. They are reasonably optimistic and have a sense of humor. Even though they are dedicated to doing things well, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
  6. They take responsibility for their mental programming, their emotions, and their actions. If they have ineffective ways of thinking and behaving, they evaluate them and make appropriate changes.
  7. They look at adversity as a challenge rather than as a threat. They realize that no matter how the present situation turns out, they will learn and grow from it.
  8. They respect themselves and other people. They have a spirit of cooperation, looking for win-win solutions rather than trying to win over other people or ignoring their own wants and needs because of fear.
  9. They are grateful for the good things in their lives.
  10. They know how to mourn the inevitable losses in life. They know how to let go of things they have no control over.


 

You Own Your Thoughts, Now Control Them October 16, 2007

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 1:42 pm

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You Own Your Thoughts, Now Control Them

from Dumb Little Man – Tips for Life by Jay White“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”
~Viktor FranklWhat if it was possible to be happy even when things aren’t going your way? What if there was a simple way to be happy, despite your environment, while staring adversity straight in the eyes?

I know it sounds like a great idea, but doesn’t seem to be very realistic at first glance. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be realistic, it just has to work, and it will, if you stick with a few basic principles. The key here is in the simplicity, and in keeping yourself accountable for sticking with the following principles.

My experience
This is a system I’ve been using for quite some time, and can testify to its merit. I decided that I was tired of being unhappy, and letting my environment and the people around me control how I felt.

I’ve had a high degree of success with this, despite frustrations, set-backs and what seemed like catastrophes. I haven’t been able to completely get rid of unhappiness, and I have to admit that sometimes I still get sad at things that I shouldn’t. Regardless, I have increased my overall happiness and fulfillment, which in turn reduced my stress and worrying. I even noticed that I haven’t been getting sick as much since I’ve been happier over all.

Be Selective In What You Think About
The wonderful thing about thoughts is that you genuinely own yours. No one else has power over what you think about. With this power, you are faced with a big choice that can impact your entire existence.

  • Positive Thoughts. You can choose to think about goals, ambitions, people you love, beautiful scenery, and things you enjoy. This affects your physiology by making you stress free and healthier.
  • Negative Thoughts. You can choose to think about death, disappointment, destruction and misery. It’s so stressful to think about how unfair life is, which causes your immune system to take a dip.

Ask Yourself The Important Question
In my post, How To Make Everything The Bright Side, I mentioned that by asking myself a single question, I was able to change how I perceived the world. Yes, a single question is powerful enough to change your thoughts. Just ask yourself: How do I want this to affect me?

When you ask yourself about what you want, you are able to take control. If being happy in the face of adversity is what you want, than you choose to let yourself be affected positively. You take negative situations, and treat them as a learning experience.

Instead of taking minor discomforts and turning them into major frustrations, let them affect you in a positive way. For example, you can turn a 48-hour commute into a learning experience.

Switch Channels
Treat your life as a television set, and when your thoughts project channels of unhappiness, hit the next button on your mental remote. Switch to something pleasant and stick to the happy networks.

Remember, you control whether your thoughts are positive or negative and with this choice you own your happiness.

 

How to break any bad habit October 13, 2007

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 4:06 pm

Submitted by Wesley on October 12, 2007 – 4:07pm.

Break any habit? Okay that might be over-promising just a bit but we do have a pretty good tip that makes self-regulation much easier and will improve the likelihood that you can erase some unwanted behavior in your life. Positive psychologists have been taking a closer look at self-discipline and have made the somewhat surprising observation that improving self-regulation in one area helps you in other areas as well. They liken self-regulation to a physical muscle that can be strengthened (or alternatively allowed to waste away).

In an extensive post on the subject, positive psychology coach Senia Maymen cites three studies to illustrate this phenomenon: the posture study, the exercise study and the money study.

The posture study: if you ask college students to watch their posture for two weeks – simply to improve it whenever possible – and then have the students take a self-control activity test, those who had been asked to work on their posture improved their self-control.

In the exercise study, students were taught a cardio and weights exercise regimen and were told to follow it closely for two months. At the end of two months, not only did their self-regulation increase under test circumstances (link how do scientists measure self-regulation?), but also the exercisers had less junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine…additionally, the students reported studying more, watching TV less, and doing more household chores like washing dishes.

Finally, in the money study, participants were asked to manage their finances for four months by following a specific system. Not only did the participants increase their average savings rate over four months from 8% to 38% of their income, but they also improved study habits and doing household chores and decreased cigarette use.

The lessons from these studies are both obvious and thought-provoking. If you want to improve some aspect of your life, say break a bad habit, then look to improve your overall self-regulation. Find an area(s) that you can “train” your self-regulation muscles. For me, adhering to the discipline of being an early-riser has had benefits in aspects of my life that go well beyond what happens in the morning hours. Ask yourself, what are you going to improve today?

 

Your Brain is Not Your Friend – lifehack.org

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 4:01 pm

Your Brain is Not Your Friend – lifehack.org

Your Brain is Not Your Friend

Your Brain is Not Your Friend

A mind is a terrible thing. Whether because of the brain’s internal structure or the way social and cultural pressures cause our minds to develop and function, in the end the result is the same: minds that are not only easily deceived and frequently deceptive in their own right, but when caught out, refuse to accept and address their errors. If you have a mind — or even half a mind — you might be best off losing it entirely. Barring that, though, there are a few things you should know about the enemy in your head. Before it hurts someone.

I see red pandas.

In 1978, a red panda escaped from the Rotterdam zoo. Hoping to enlist the public in finding this rare and distinctive-looking animal — it looks a bit like raccoon crossed with a small bear, but bright red — the zoo contacted the papers and stories ran in the local press with descriptions and contact information in case the poor creature was seen. Just as the story ran, the panda was found, dead.

Over the next few days over a hundred red panda sightings were reported. Keep in mind, red pandas are indigenous to tropical India, not temperate Holland. There is no chance that some other red panda was being seen and reported to the authorities. It’s also not likely that people were hallucinating, either. What is likely is that people were seeing some other animal or something else they couldn’t identify immediately, and interpreting it as a red panda.

When confronted with an unknown phenomenon, the brain immediately attempts to impose some kind of pattern or meaning onto it. Apparently, the brain can’t stand not knowing what something is. What happened in Rotterdam is that the news stories primed people to recognize anything mysterious or otherwise unexplainable as “red panda”, despite the unlikeliness. In other conditions, the template for the unknown might be an angel, Sasquatch, a UFO, faeries, or a will-o-wisp. Since the brain is working with so little evidence, it essentially makes it up, making our observations highly suspect.

Speaking of Priming

The suggestability of the brain extends to more than just the unknown and unusual. As it turns out, even everyday events can be shaped by subtle cues in our environment. In one study, two groups of subjects were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and offered a crumbly biscuit by a research assistant afterward. In the room where the survey was administered to one of the two groups, there was a hidden pail of water with a splash of cleaning fluid, filling the air with a slight scent.

The survey was a McGuffin; the real object of the study was to see what subjects would do after they ate the crumbly biscuit. What happened is this: the participants in the room where the smell of cleaning fluid hung in the air were much more likely to clean up the crumbs left by the biscuit than the others.

A subtle effect to be sure (they ought to try it with teenagers!) but a good example of what psychologists call “priming”. Priming calls on deep memory associations in the brain — like the association of the smell of cleaning products with the act of cleaning — which seems to trigger responses without any conscious awareness or intention on our part. Isn’t that great?

Hey hey, good looking!

It’s not just priming that can subtly and unconsciously affect the way we behave; as it happens, the beliefs other people have about us, even if they don’t know us, can also affect our behavior. For example, psychologists set up telephone conversations between a man and a woman. Neither could see the other. Before the conversation started, the man was shown a photograph of the woman he was going to meet on the phone. However, the photograph was actually picked randomly, and depicted either an attractive woman or an unattractive one (how this was determined I don’t know).

Men who believed they were talking with an attractive woman were much more friendly, active, and open during the conversation than men who believed they were talking to an unattractive woman. What’s more, the women — who did not know whether their partners believed they were attractive or unattractive — responded differently depending on the beliefs of their partner. Women who were believed to be unattractive were more detached, cold, formal, and even rude than those who were believed to be attractive.

Clearly these women were picking up on and responding to unconscious clues in the way their male partners spoke to them. When men were friendly and talkative, the women responded with warmth; when men were distant, women responded accordingly. But the subjects themselves did not report any difference in the way they thought they had acted — for them, they were just “normal”.

But there’s more. In interviews before the conversation took part, the men were asked to describe what they expected their partners to be like. Men who thought they were about to talk to an attractive woman said they expected her to be warm, open, friendly, and so on — which in most cases is exactly what she was. Men who expected their partner unattractive thought they would also be cold, distant, and unfriendly — and lo and behold, she was. In our minds, attractive people are better people — and apparently thinking makes it so.

“Nothing more than a dog’s breakfast”

Well, that’s brains for you — ” three and a half pounds of blood-soaked sponge” in Kurt Vonnegut’s colorful estimation. Somehow, this little bundle of nerves and fat manages to guide us through our days, most of the time without getting us killed. Along the way, though, these little quirks — and a host of others, which I’ll revisit at a later date — can cause a lot of trouble. Good people’s talents are overlooked because we don’t like the looks of them. The worst aspects of our personalities are brought to the fore because of a subtle environmental cue, like a briefcase on a table. We imagine things that aren’t there — and get offended when others have the audacity to question our observations. We find ourselves doing things with no rational explanation for why were doing them — and even worse, sometimes we don’t find ourselves doing them, we do them without even knowing!

It all seems rather hopeless, but I’m optimistic. Knowing how our minds get in their own way, we can catch these behaviors and put them right — or put them to work for us. It takes work — individual work for sure, and in some cases the work of our entire societies. But I’m convinced we can think of ways to minimize the negative effects and maximize the positive.

If only we didn’t have to rely on the same brains to figure that out…

 

Accomplish More By Doing Less – Dumb Little Man

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 3:59 pm

Accomplish More By Doing Less – Dumb Little Man

Accomplish More By Doing Less

Posted by: Jay White on 10/12/2007 | Join the Discussion (2 comments)

The ‘Einstein Principle’ is very simple. It basically states that we are most productive when we have fewer projects to devote more of our time on. Common sense, right? This way of thinking, if practiced, leads to some interesting results that most definitely increase productivity. If all your attention is spread over less projects, those projects will benefit.

Cal Newport at StudyHacks takes this principle and adapts it to real life so we’re not just purging projects left, right and center.

It involves separating projects into professional, extracurricular, and personal categories [or the like] and marking important projects with stars while removing those that you could leave to rot with no consequence.

With the remaining items, develop a 1-3 week plan for each project, as Cal explains.

Once you completed your crunch plan you’ll be left with only a small number of important projects. In essence, you have purged your schedule of all but a few contenders to be your next Theory of Relativity. Here’s the important part: Try to go at least one month without starting any new projects. Resist, at all costs, committing to anything during this month. Instead, just focus, with an Einsteinian intensity, on your select list.

The great thing about this kind of focus with goals is that it doesn’t only apply to college life. Make these same distinctions with your own projects and focus on what’s important to see some great results.

The Einstein Principle: Accomplish More By Doing Less – [StudyHacks]

 

Top 10 Ways to Sleep Smarter and Better – Lifehacker

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 3:55 pm

Lifehacker Top 10: Top 10 Ways to Sleep Smarter and Better – Lifehacker


Top 10 Ways to Sleep Smarter and Better

sleeplikeababy1.jpg
Nothing kills your ability to get things done faster than a bad night’s sleep. Studies show that sleep deprivation costs Americans significant work productivity; yawning employees can’t stay alert, make good decisions, focus on tasks or even manage a friendly mood at the office. There are lots of ways to beat insomnia, increase the quality of your sleep, and master the power nap. Today we’ve got our top 10 favorite sleep techniques, tips and facts. Photo by dkaz.

10. Reduce Screen Time Before Bed
nightcomputing.jpgStop checking your email or watching TV just before bedtime and you’ll sleep better. A recent study shows that people who consume electronic media (read: stare at a backlit screen) just before bedtime report lower-quality sleep even when they get as much sleep as non-pre-bedtime screenheads. Lifehacker reader JFitzpatrick says this makes perfect sense:

Using a light-emitting device before bed like a flickering TV or computer monitor stimulates the brain in a different way than the way the body was intended to move towards sleep (gradually as the sun set) That’s why it is so easy to waste sleepless hours flipping from channel to channel (or reading Lifehacker or Digg). The exposure to light stimulates the brain and creates a false alertness and stimulation.

9. Exercise to Enhance Sleep
race_running_speed_267198_l.jpgYou already know that exercising provides lots of good health benefits—a good night’s sleep being one of them. But make sure you exercise in the morning or afternoon, not at night, to see the benefits while you dream. CNN reports:

The National Sleep Foundation reports that exercise in the afternoon can help deepen shut-eye and cut the time it takes for you to fall into dreamland. But, they caution, vigorous exercise leading up to bedtime can actually have the reverse effects. A 2003 study found that a morning fitness regime was key to a better snooze. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center concluded that postmenopausal women who exercised 30 minutes every morning had less trouble falling asleep than those who were less active. The women who worked out in the evening hours saw little or no improvement in their sleep patterns.Oh yeah, exercise enhances that other bedtime activity, too: sex. (But that’s a whole other top 10.)

8. Eat to Enhance Sleep
Some foods are more conducive to a better night’s sleep than others. You already knew about warm milk, chamomile tea and turkey, but Yahoo Food lists others, like bananas, potatoes, oatmeal and whole-wheat bread. You find yourself fighting off afternoon droopy eyelids at the office? Here are some pointers on eating a less nap-inducing lunch.

7. Master the Power Nap
sleeppod.jpgSlowly but surely, the benefits of the classic, 20-minute power nap are getting more recognition, with big companies installing sleep pods at the office and more software applications like Pzizz helping to set the right power nap aural scene. Here’s how to get the perfect nap from the author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, and more on how and why power naps work.

6. Avoid the Soul-Shattering Alarm Buzzer
No one likes starting the day by getting ripped out of bed by that evil BEEP BEEP BEEP of the alarm clock, but some sleepyheads ignore anything gentler. Lifehacker reader Jason beats the buzzer with a dual clock radio system:
alarmbuzzer.png

Put one alarm clock on your nightstand, the other across the room and make sure they’re in sync. Set the alarm clock on your nightstand to go off at, let’s say, 6:30 a.m., if that is when you need to get up. I set that one to use the radio, and make sure it is loud enough to wake me up, but not too loud (I don’t want to wake my wife on purpose). The second alarm clock on the dresser is set to go off exactly one minute later, but using that dreadful buzzer. So, when my alarm goes off in the morning, it doesn’t startle me like the buzzer. Then, I know I have about 60 seconds to get up and turn the other one off before I hear a buzzing sound. At that point, I am out of bed, and no buzzer.Of course, some particularly talented sleepers can program themselves to wake up before the alarm clock goes off naturally. (The rest of us hate you.)

5. Solve Problems in Your Sleep
Wrestling with a tough decision, stuck in a creative rut or having a hard time solving a complex problem? Studies show that a little shut-eye can help you tackle problems and make tough decisions.

 

4. Beat Insomnia with Visualization
There’s nothing worse than laying awake throughout the night, watching the clock tick away seconds knowing you’ll be a zombie the next day. When insomnia’s kicking your sleepy butt, use a self-directed meditative visualization technique to quiet the whir of a racing mind. Guest contributor Ryan Irelan runs down how to beat insomnia with “Blue Energy.”

3. Shortcut a Long Nap with the Clattering Spoon
spoon.jpgArtist and napper Salvador Dali had an interesting nap technique, based on the idea that your body benefits from just getting to sleep as much as a couple of hours worth of shut-eye. He purportedly used a spoon to wake himself up just as he lost consciousness. According to Question Swap (via 43F), here’s what you do:

Lie down or sit in comfy seat holding a spoon in your fingertips. you should be holding it in a way that – when you loose consciousness (sleep) you drop it… the Clatter (put a big plate on the floor under your hand) will wake you…. and you get woken JUST as you enter the best “dreamy” bit of your sleep. Alternatively, hold a bunch of keys: same effect.

2. Take a Caffeine Power Nap

Need a turbo boost to beat the sleepy doldrums pinch? Try a cup of coffee followed by a quick 15-minute nap to reboot your brain and get you going again.

1. Teach Yourself to Lucid Dream
crazydreams.pngArrive at school naked in that terrible dream last night? Turn nightmares around by knowing you’re dreaming while you do it. Lucid dreaming opens up all sorts of possibilities for controlling where and how your dreams go. Teach yourself to lucid dream by keeping a dream journal and learning reality checks and dream extending techniques. (Some great comments here by lucid-dreaming readers, too.) Intrigued? Here are more lucid dreaming FAQs.

 

How to Cure your Road Rage October 12, 2007

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 12:20 pm

Quoted from http://www.google.com/reader/view/#stream/feed%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2FDumbLittleMan:

How to Cure your Road Rage

from Dumb Little Man – Tips for Life by Jay White @ DLMRoad RageDo you find yourself getting angry while driving? Is that an understatement? Does your blood boil? Do you curse like a sailor and secretly wish to launch projectiles at fellow drivers? Would you like to break this cycle of road rage? Well you can and it’s not that hard to do.

Controlling anger offers two great benefits. You will put less stress on your body which will keep your blood pressure down and you’ll also feel better. Secondly, you will you can lower your risk of an accident, since driving while angry makes you more likely to get into an accident.

Tips to Control Anger While Driving:

  1. Commitment
    This is the first step. You must know why you want to change. This way when your triggers occur you can remind yourself of the benefits that will stem from becoming a more relaxed driver.
  2. Analyze
    Take a few moments right now to simply jot down all the things that trigger your anger. Also identify the scenarios that trigger your anger. Examples: getting cut off, heavy traffic, running late, tailgating, being passed, etc.
  3. Prepare
    Next, write down the positive new actions you can take when these triggers occur in the future. Here are some examples:

    • Getting Cut Off – I will ease off on the gas and mentally welcome others to go ahead of me. I know that it won’t make much of a difference in when I arrive. I realize I’m not in a race.
    • Heavy Traffic – I will make a choice to enjoy the ride. I won’t mentally fight situations that I can’t control. I will relax with the slow pace. I will look for and prepare ways to enjoy the ride such as listening to music, talk radio, audio books, or talking to friends on my cellphone headset.
    • When I’m Late – I will plan to arrive early from now on so traffic won’t bother me. If I am late, I won’t get mad at other drivers. It’s not their fault I left late. I won’t get mad at myself. I will simply call ahead to my destination to announce that I will be late. I will accept it. What’s done is done. I will choose to relax and enjoy the ride regardless.
  4. Adopt New Habits
    • Arrive Early. Always plan to leave 15-30 minutes earlier than you normally would. It’s amazing the amount of stress that this prevents. This one habit has made a huge difference in my life. Always bring something to occupy your time when you arrive such as reading or writing material.
    • Intention Power. When you get into the car, before you turn the ignition, close your eyes. Take 5 slow deep breaths. Consciously relax your body. Blow out any stress or tension you are holding onto. Then commit in your mind to drive slowly, to remain calm & peaceful, and to enjoy the ride. Now smile and turn on the car.
    • Yield. Make it a habit to yield to others both on the road physically and in your mind. Assume the best about people. Give the benefit of the doubt. Smile. Wave people on. What have you got to lose? (Not time. Remember you’ve left early, right?) And, next, expect nothing in return. Do this simply for your own benefit, not for gratitude.
    • The Journey Philosophy. Every time you drive remind yourself that you’re not in a race. Wrap your mind around a completely new philosophy of loving and enjoying the journey. Save your racing instincts for when you are running, biking, or some other sport.
    • Handling Kids. Make the ride fun. Talk, sing, and laugh with your kids. If the kids are unruly, always start off on a positive but firm note. Use sugar first. Appeal to them as if you are all on the same team. Ask them to help you out by not fighting or making too much noise. Refrain from sounding exasperated. That negative energy will make the situation worse. If you don’t get cooperation, simply state a consequence that is realistic, time-bound, and that you will follow through on. For instance if you are going to the County Fair, don’t make the consequence that you’ll turn around and go home (unless that is what you would prefer). Make it that the child will lose the privilege of their favorite toy for a day. Or something that only impacts the child and not everyone else. Your children will heed future warnings and comply if they know that you always follow through.