Exercise and Feelings of Kindness

>> Friday

A study at Northern Illinois University found that bosses who exercised were kinder to their employees than bosses who didn't exercise. And the kindness effect didn't require a lot of exercise. Once or twice a week did the trick.

This is, of course, true for anyone. You will be kinder to your spouse, your kids, your friends, and your co-workers if you exercise.

Why? Exercise improves your mood. “People who exercise tend to have positive moods and to react less to stressful events, which means that they’re also less likely to abuse their employees,” says study author James Burton.

It doesn't take much to make a noticeable difference in your mood. Don't know where to start? Read what Jack LaLanne recommended.

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Increase Your Ability and Confidence

>> Saturday

HAVE YOU EVER noticed how wise you are when you give advice to a person younger than you? You aren’t fooling yourself. You really have gained some wisdom over the years. Have you ever wished you could be that wise when you had troubles? You can. You can talk to yourself like a “Dutch uncle.”

Randall Masciana, M.S., tried to find out what kind of mental strategy would improve a person’s performance when throwing darts. Masciana had the participants try everything from mental imagery to Zen. What worked best for improving the dart thrower’s ability to hit the target was “positive self-talk.”

Simply talking to yourself in a confident, reassuring, positive, friendly way makes a difference. It may be trite. It may be old. But it works, and it works better than anything else.

When things get tough, keep your thoughts prominent. Turn up the volume of your inner voice so you can hear it clearly and coach yourself. If you don’t know what to say, imagine a friend of yours or your little brother in the same situation and say to yourself what you would say to them.

Another way of knowing what to say to yourself is to ask yourself what someone you admire would say to you: Abraham Lincoln, a professor, your grandmother — whomever you admire for her or his wisdom and strength of character. Imagine asking the person for advice and imagine what s/he might say to you.

You know more about your own situation than anyone else, so your advice to yourself is in some ways more useful than anyone else’s. You are wise. If you would only talk to yourself and listen, your life would be better.


This is a chapter from Self-Help Stuff That Works.

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What's the Best Predictor of a Second Heart Attack?

>> Tuesday

WHEN I recently took the "signature strengths" questionnaire at authentichappiness.org, I received an update on Martin Seligman's work. I was impressed by the following astounding finding. It is an excerpt from Seligman's new book, Flourish:

In the mid-1980s, 120 men from San Francisco had their first heart attacks, and they served as the untreated control group in the massive Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial. This study disappointed many psychologists and cardiologists by ultimately finding no effect on cardiovascular disease by training to change these men’s personalities from type A (aggressive, time urgent, and hostile) to type B (easygoing).

The 120 untreated control group, however, was of great interest to Gregory Buchanan, then a graduate student at Penn, and to me because so much was known about their first heart attacks: extent of damage to the heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass, and lifestyle — all the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In addition, the men were all interviewed about their lives: family, job, and hobbies. We took every single “because” statement from each of their videotaped interviews and coded it for optimism and pessimism (determining their explanatory style).

Within eight and a half years, half the men had died of a second heart attack, and we opened the sealed envelope. Could we predict who would have a second heart attack? None of the usual risk factors predicted death — not blood pressure, not cholesterol, not even how extensive the damage from the first heart attack. Only optimism, eight and a half years earlier, predicted a second heart attack: Of the sixteen most pessimistic men, fifteen died; of the sixteen most optimistic men, only five died.

This finding has been repeatedly confirmed in larger studies of cardiovascular disease, using varied measures of optimism.

There are two important things to know about this study. First, the definitions of "optimism" and "pessimism" are very carefully defined. It has to do with "explanatory style" — that is, how you habitually explain events to yourself. Read more about that here.

And second, optimism can be learned, and it doesn't take very long (here's how). An improved explanatory style not only helps your health, it makes you feel better. It improves your mood.

Find out what your explanatory style is (so you can concentrate your efforts at fixing any specific weakness) by clicking here. Scroll down to the link for "Optimism Test" and take the questionnaire. And then begin using this technique to plug the hole(s) in your bucket. It will benefit you for the rest of your life (which may be a long one).

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What If

>> Friday

WHAT IF what we believe about the violent nature of humans and "man's inhumanity to man" is mostly wrong? What if it is caused by a very small percentage of the population who have a specific disorder (and those they manipulate into helping them) that causes most (or all) of the war and violent madness in the world?

And what if people are manipulated into cooperating and participating only because they don't know this very small percentage exist, or even if they know, they wouldn't know how to identify one?

And what if a simple grassroots educational campaign could end "the bloody history of man" once and for all?

Read more: A Practical Way YOU Can Help Create Peace on Earth.

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Feel good more often and become more effective with your actions. Check it out on Amazon: Self-Help Stuff That Works.

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