Reduce the Stress of Too Many Choices

>> Friday

If you feel stressed, you have too many goals. You don't need to have that many. You are reluctant to let go of some of your goals out of plain old, natural greed.

But you can calm that greed in yourself. And if you do, you will feel much more relaxed, until you slowly accumulate too many goals again, and then you'll have to trim them again.

If you do this kind of regular maintanence on your goals, you will not only feel more relaxed, you have more motivation. Read an article about this: Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation High.


A Powerful Way To Raise Your Mood

>> Saturday

WE RECEIVED the following note from a woman named Tufia Bair about a method to raise your mood that is practically guaranteed to be a peak experience every time:

I WAS working out at the club and looked up at the track. I noticed this slender, fit, tall lady. She was moving totally different from the others who were running or walking. She was smiling and appearing very much at peace with herself. She moved with a lithesomeness and grace.

She was wearing her earphones and it appeared she was playing very fine music which she was moving to accordingly.

I watched her for about a year before I asked her what she was doing. She told me and gave me her name at the same time; and she asked me if I was interested and would I like to learn. Her name, Klassy, fit her perfectly. She originated this movement herself called "walkdancing."

I told her I wanted very much to be a part of what she was doing.

On the following Monday we met at the club and went to the track. She had brought with her an extra earphone set so we could both listen to the mustic as we moved along together.

I was not concerned about what people might be saying and thinking. I was so tuned into the music and following her steps. It did not take me long at all to start stepping in to my own style.

Walkdancing is a let go and have fun type of experience. I was living my dream in being and feeling alive and free through the reality of self-expression. I felt as if I was moving in celebration of my life and self. Life is good!

If you're interested in raising your mood this way, you can learn more about walkdancing here:

For specific instructions about how to do it, check this out: How to WalkDance.

The songs you choose for walkdancing have to be within a certain range. If the beat is too fast, you can't keep up and if it's too slow it's not as much fun. And ideally, you would choose songs that have a positive message, so you can not only "get into" the beat, but get into the song itself (which makes peak experiences more likely). Here is a list of songs that fit all the criteria: Great Songs For WalkDancing.


Can Optimism Improve Your Mood?

>> Monday

IN THE LAST THIRTY YEARS, research into our thinking patterns and their influence on our moods has brought us to an understanding far beyond the positive thinking pioneers of a hundred years ago.

There’s an age-old battle between pessimists and optimists. Is the glass half-empty or half-full? Pessimists say it’s half-empty and only starry-eyed dreamers would think otherwise. Optimists say it’s half-full and you put yourself in a bad mood unnecessarily to think otherwise.

In the last forty years of research, cognitive scientists have gathered enough evidence to say who has a more legitimate point of view. A pessimist and an optimist can argue with more fact and less opinion these days. Here’s how a conversation might go...

SHERRY AND NICK WALKED along the road. It was autumn. Small gusts of wind were knocking leaves off the trees ahead of them. “I’ve never felt so sure of anything in my whole life,” said Sherry, “This new business is the opportunity I’ve been looking for!”

“You shouldn’t be too optimistic,” said Nick. He looked serious.

Sherry seemed startled out of her reverie. “Why not?”

“Because you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.” He said it as if it was the most obvious thing there was. “If you get all pumped-up and things don’t work out, you might deeply disappointed, maybe even depressed.”

“How could I get depressed?” She’s surprised. “If I hit a setback, I’ll change my approach and keep trying. There’s no such thing as failure. Only temporary setbacks. The only way I could fail is to give up, and I’m not going to give up.”

“But what if you never succeeded? What if you kept living on hope your whole life and ended up a failure? What good is optimism then?”

“Well, what’s the alternative, Nick? Think about it. What’s better than optimism? Being unhappy? Never really trying anything challenging because you’re afraid of disappointment? The alternative to optimism is pessimism and pessimism is the road to depression.”

“Maybe you don’t have to be on either extreme, Sherry. Did you ever think of that? Or do you think optimism is better than the middle-ground?”

“I know it is. Optimistic people are happier, healthier, and more successful.”

“Who says?”

“Lots of studies have been done on this. And that’s what they found out. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you think you have a chance, you’ll keep trying. And if you keep trying, of course, you keep increasing your chances. But if you don’t think you have a chance in hell, you won’t even start, so of course, you can’t possibly succeed. If you hit a setback and think it’s a small, temporary thing, you’ll try to fix it or get past it. If you think it’s huge and permanent, you might just give up right there.”

Nick has been a pessimist all his life, but he never thought of himself as a pessimist. He considered himself a “realist.” This conversation is getting to him. He doesn’t know why, but it feels like a cherished religious faith is being attacked. “But,” he pleads, “if you’re too optimistic, you won’t see the bad news coming your way. Pessimistic people actually see reality more accurately. There are some studies that prove that too!”

“Your right. Pessimists see reality more accurately, are more miserable, not as healthy and don’t make as much money. Even if I never dropped into a pessimistic mood — and I do once in awhile — but even if I never thought about what could go wrong, optimism would still be the best way to go through life.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because what difference does it make if you avoid more bad stuff in life if, at the same time, you end up avoiding most of the good stuff too? And you have to admit, if you aren’t happy, healthy or successful, you’ve missed most of the good stuff in life. It’s kind of a second-rate booby-prize to say, “Yes, but I see things more accurately.”

They walked on in silence for a long time. A leaf floated gently down and landed on Nick’s shoulder, balanced there for a second, and fell behind him. He never noticed. Finally he said, “Maybe you have a point. But I don’t think I could become optimistic. I’ve been pessimistic my whole life. I don’t think I could change.”

“That’s kind of pessimistic of you, isn’t it?” says Sherry, laughing.

Nick gets the irony of it and smiles. “I guess that could become one of those self-fulfilling prophecies,” he says.

“Sounds like it to me,” says Sherry, putting her arm over his shoulder.

“Maybe I should just give it a try anyway.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“Hey, you know what? I feel a little better already!”

They walk off into the sunset. Music rises to inspirational tones. Nick and Sherry both feel confident that things are going to start getting better from here on out.

The End.

OPTIMISM WORKS. It’s a practical, realistic approach to dealing with life's inevitable setbacks. It works better than pessimism. The facts are in. Optimism won.

Read more: Interview On Optimism


Does It Ruin Your Mood To Be Authentic?

>> Friday

IF YOU'VE BEEN AROUND for fifty years or so, and if you interact with people 15 to 30 years old, you have probably noticed a marked trend away from the phony "putting on a happy face" you saw so much as a child. It is becoming more and more common for people to have given up trying to fool others into thinking they're happy and feeling good when they're not.

I think this is a good trend. It is a trend away from fake smiles and fake bubbliness and toward authenticity and honesty. It is a trend away from worrying about what others may think and toward relying on what you think. Emerson called this Self-Reliance.

There is a drawback to this trend, however. I will explain the drawback in a minute, but first read this experiment from an article on humor:

"The actual expression on your face might make it easier or harder to see what's funny. This idea comes from an experiment by Fritz Strack, a psychologist at Mannheim University in Germany. He took a bunch of people and told them he was going to test their physical skills. Then he showed them a series of cartoons and told them to rate the cartoons' funniness. But he told them to hold a pen in their mouth while they did it. Half of them were told to hold it between their lips; the other half, between their teeth.

"The ones with the pen between their teeth rated the cartoons as funnier.

"Apparently, when they held the pen between their lips, they couldn't smile, but when it was between their teeth, they were forced to smile the whole time, and that physical change in their facial expression changed how funny something was. Interesting. And it might have some usefulness to you in your quest to see things as funny."

In another article, this one about developing an attitude that will help you accomplish goals, you find out about two more experiments along the same lines:

"The researcher Patricia Ruselli did an experiment that went like this: The subject was brought in and told to watch a slide presentation designed to produce sadness. Half the subjects were told to frown while they watched it. The other half were told not to frown.

"For several hours afterwards, the people who frowned felt more depressed than the people who didn't frown...

"Another bit of evidence comes from a pilot study that found when people were injected with Botox to get rid of furrowed brows, it improved their mood, showing in particular, decreases in symptoms of depression. Even when your facial expression is changed with a paralyzing toxin, it can alter your emotional state.

"The point of all this is for you to realize that when you change your facial expression, you change your feelings."

The drawback I see from the trend toward authenticity is more bad moods. Here's how it works: Something makes you feel less than happy. You honestly frown or purse your lips or whatever. And then that outward and honest expression of your negative state makes you more likely to be in a bad mood longer, to find things less humorous, etc.

Does this mean you have a choice between being genuine and natural or being an artificial, back-slapping, glad-handing, insincere but happier person? I don't think so. Like many other things, this issue is not a black-and-white, all-or-nothing problem. Thinking of it in those terms is another significant cause of bad moods, oddly enough, but that's another story (read more about that here).

The distinction missing here is your intention. The reason you do something has a big effect on your mood. For example, you can smile at someone in order to fool them into thinking you're happy when you're not. That's one reason to smile. But that's obviously not the only reason possible. You can smile as a gift. You can smile simply to experiment with the effect of smiling on your mood.

The first smile will probably give you a bad feeling. Being fake for self-serving reasons feels bad, even if the physical act of turning up your lips might improve your mood in the longer run. But the second two reasons for smiling would allow you to have the improved mood without the sour taste in your mouth from being phony. Your intention matters a lot.

Being authentic can improve your mood if it's done right. It can contribute to a genuine and heartfelt enthusiasm for living. (Read more about that here.) Pay attention to the look on your face, the way you move your body, even the way you breathe. All these can have an impact on your mood. Do it for the right reasons, and you can have your integrity and feel good too.

Read more: A Simple Way To Change How You Feel.


This Recession Is Good For Your Health

>> Wednesday

THERE MAY be plenty of bad things about this recession, but it may have at least one very good side: Evidence is strong that bad economic times are good for your health. Read more about this result here:

Scientific American article

MSNBC article

Yahoo News article

University of Michigan article

Bad news may sell better, but good news is better for you. Read more good news here: Good News.


World Smile Day

>> Friday

ONE VERY good way to raise your mood is to raise someone else's mood. This is a way to raise your mood that's available to you almost anywhere and almost anytime.

Today is the first Friday in October. And the first Friday of every October is World Smile Day, a celebration created by Harvey Ball, the man who invented the original "smiley face" back in 1963.

To celebrate this day, all you have to do is make someone smile today. And notice how it improves your mood when you do.


Free Hugs

>> Thursday

SOMEONE anonymously left a link to the video below on the article Peace, Love, and Oxytocin. I watched it, and the video raised my mood. I hope it does the same for you and everyone you share it with.


The Moodraising Effect of Constitutionals

>> Sunday

When you go for a walk without trying to get anywhere for any particular purpose, it's called a "constitutional." It used to be a traditional thing to do after a meal. 

It's very healthy. It also clears your head and gives you a chance to think, especially if you do it somewhere quiet.

Many great thinkers through history made it a habit to take long walks. Some of them said they had their best ideas while walking. 

Find out how to have good quality constitutionals here: Constitutional Right.


A Fountain of Youth

>> Monday

Our bodies haven't changed genetically in a very long time. But we're getting fatter. What changed?

We now have a steadier supply of food than any of our ancestors had for the last three billion years. And the steadiness and regularity of our food supply is unnatural. Our bodies didn't evolve under such opulent conditions.

There is only one thing to do about it: Artificially induce lean times. That is, fast occasionally. Go without food occasionally. Your mother might have always tried to get you to eat regularly, and you often hear how bad it is for you, but when it's done right, going without food is very healthy indeed.

Learn more about it here: Under-Fasting and the Fountain of Youth.


Poor Listening Has Real Consequences

>> Thursday

When you don't listen well when a friend of yours is talking, it can be annoying. But it is more than that. Your poor listening has real consequences in your friend's life.

Your friend will not be able to solve his or her problems as well, it can raise his or her level of stress, and much more.

Read about it here: Consequences of Not Listening Well.

Here's what it means to be a good listener: How to Listen in a Way That Helps.


Improve Your Mood By Making More Money

>> Monday

Making or having more money won't solve all your problems and won't necessarily make you happy. But having more money and making more money can, if you do it right, improve your mood in the long run, making you feel more secure.

In the article below, you'll find out some simple fundamentals on making more money and wasting less of it so you have more.

How to Earn More Money


Dealing With Conflict In Relationships

>> Thursday

According to the research, when you're in an argument with someone, what you're arguing about has less of an impact on the intensity of the conflict than the way you're arguing.

Certain ways of arguing predictably make the conflict worse (frequent interruptions, for example), and certain ways make things better (like suggesting a compromise).

If you'd like to learn more about this, read the article, Conflicts With People.


Feeling Confident With Others

There is something simple and easy you can do that will make you feel more confident around anyone. You don't have to practice it. You don't have to get good at it. You can do it today and it will work instantly.

I'll give you a hint: One of the synomyms for "confident" is "certain."

Read an article describing this simple technique here: Confidence With People.


Simple Goals Improve Your Mood Best

>> Friday

WHEN A WAITER at a restaurant has one table, he usually isn't stressed at all. He can concentrate and do a good job, and it is no problem. Two tables, okay. Still no problem. Three tables, and he has to start paying attention, because it's like juggling — the more balls you have in the air, the easier it is to drop one. When he gets up to seven or eight tables, it can become very stressful. The juggling of tasks becomes too complex to handle well.

In the same way, the number of purposes you have is directly related to your stress hormone level. Depending on how you handle your goals, a strong sense of purpose can help you manage stress well, or it can make your general stress level much worse.

The problem is that the natural drift for people is toward complication. In other words, if you don't try to do anything about it, your life will get more and more complicated; you will collect more and more purposes. So you have to make a continuous effort to simplify your purposes. Your life will naturally and constantly drift toward complication, just as a rose bush will constantly try to sprawl. You must continually prune. You can't prune once and for all. You have to keep pruning.

For example, the waiter had several goals. He wanted his guests to be happy. He also wanted to get along well with his fellow waiters. And he wanted to please the cooks so interactions with them were pleasant. And, of course, he wanted the managers to be happy with him. And so on. Too many purposes. His attention is scattered in too many directions. If he knew about simplifying purposes, he would have trimmed his purposes down to something manageable: To make the guests pleased with his service. That's enough to concentrate on, and that would keep his tension level lower, because it is manageable.

Manage your purposes. Make a list: What are your most important purposes? Trim the list down to something manageable; something simple enough that you can manage it without stress. Get few enough purposes that it feels good.

Having strong purposes can improve your mood tremendously, but only if you keep your purposes trimmed down enough to feel good.

Be aware that after you trim your purposes, complexity will gradually creep back in. Simplifying your purposes is something you'll need to do once in awhile for the rest of your life.

Keep your purposes strong and clear, simple and heartfelt, and you will find the most powerful source of self-generated happiness that exists in this world. As George Bernard Shaw said, "the true joy in life is being used by a purpose recognized by yourself to be a mighty one." Experience the true joy in life. Be used by a mighty purpose. Find yourself a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment and get to work.



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