Women's Contributions Throughout History Have Been Ignored

>> Saturday

Don't recognize them? You should.
Women have been making significant contributions to science, discovery, art, literature, invention, and so on throughout history, but most of these contributions haven't found their way into our minds. Most people don't know any of it. The stories are not in history books or museums. An organization called National Women's History Museum (NWHM) is determined to change that. They intend to get a Women's History Museum in the National Mall (a national park in downtown Washington, D.C. which receives approximately 24 million visitors each year).

Recently, the NWHM successfully got a Commission Bill passed in Congress that will allow them to create the museum. Now all they have to do is raise roughly two million dollars. They have 18 months to do it.  If they don't come up with the money in 18 months, they lose their chance. This is the last site left on the National Mall.

If you would like to help make it happen, donate here: How to Donate to the NWHM. And share the cause with your friends and family. Like the NWHM page on Facebook here. Or on Twitter here. They've also got a channel on YouTube here. Share it all and let's help give women their deserved place in history.

The NWHM wrote in their recent mailing: "This is an epic time for us in women's history — a milestone. Establishing a physical women's museum is the largest single endeavor in American history women have ever undertaken for themselves to finally feature the central part women played in this nation's history.

"Every day we uncover another amazing story here at NWHM. We learn of women who made major discoveries for which they never received credit — or if they did, it has since been lost or buried. Or, in some cases, men were given the full credit until research showed women's critical part in the invention or discovery."

The president of NWHM, Joan Wages, wrote, "I don't really need to tell you how sorely needed this Museum is for women and children of all ages. Girls need role models to help them increase their self-esteem. Just talking about it in the media isn't enough. Women's History NEEDS to be in our textbooks, shared in social forums and in a Museum on our National Mall where America shows what we honor and respect! Our Museum is a critical first step!"

Help make it happen by clicking here. 


Gaining Perspective Deliberately

>> Thursday

In the movie, The Game, Michael Douglas plays Nick Van Orton, the wealthy son of a wealthy man. The story begins when Nick’s brother (Sean Penn) gives Nick a birthday present: A life-changing experience, sort of like a personal-growth workshop, except it doesn’t take place in a classroom — it takes place in your life, and you never know who is an actor and what is real. The game is especially tailored to you and you never know what is staged and what isn’t.

The creators of the game make Nick’s well-ordered life completely fall apart. All the things he identifies with — his money, his calmness, his place in society — are taken away from him. His life is destroyed one piece at a time.

When Nick tries to find out if this is all part of the game, it appears the company was a big scam, stole all his money, and left town. They very realistically give Nick the impression they took him for everything he’s worth. He lost his mansion, his credit cards, his Swiss bank accounts. He was penniless.

While all this is going on, we (the people watching the movie) really don’t know what the truth is, and we see Nick going through all these miserable experiences and on the one hand we’re seeing it as anybody would — just miserable experiences and nothing more — and at the same time we are half-viewing it with the question, “I wonder if this is the perfect experience to teach him to be happier?” Because we realize these experiences are teaching him against his will to care more about people, to appreciate what he had, and for the first time in the movie, we feel he is actually engaged in his life. He looked deeply bored with his predictable life before the game started.

He was a snob who lived in a bubble and didn’t really experience real life or real connections with regular people. He needed nobody. But now he has no money, and he has to rely on the kindness of a waitress in order to get something to eat.

Is this a humbling experience, a potentially life-changing experience for Nick? Or is it merely misfortune? We, the viewers, really don’t know until the end of the movie.

Watching the movie was a great demonstration of a profound fact: That the same experience can be seen in at least two different ways, both of them equally valid. One way of looking at it only makes you miserable without any benefit. The other one helps you learn to be a better person, to have better values, and to be happier.

And of course, the thinking viewer will also eventually realize while watching the movie, that all of life is like this.

Someone might get an ulcer, and that is clearly just a hassle and he has to take medication that gives him dry mouth or whatever...or... this is an indicator-beacon that says change your life — the way you live your life produces too much stress.

With the first viewpoint, he just feels frustrated and that probably just makes his ulcer worse. The ulcer itself becomes another stressful thing to add to all the other stressful stuff in his life.

With the second viewpoint, he may feel motivated to change his life in ways that’ll make him feel better. The second viewpoint, the better one, the one that doesn’t come naturally to anybody but the most buoyant optimists, is a reframe.

The point of view you have about something is like a frame around a painting. You can take a painting and put it in an old beat-up frame and it looks like trash. Or you could put it in a fancy, museum-style frame, and it would have an entirely different feel.

Reframing means seeing the same situation in a different way. It means to see the same picture through a different lens. It means to see the same event in a different context. It means interpreting a situation a different way — in a way that makes things better. It means reinterpreting an event in a way that helps you feel better and get more done.

We automatically see (interpret, understand) the events in our lives in a certain way. You found out in Antivirus For Your Mind that it really helps to scrutinize the way you naturally explain setbacks and find mistakes in your explanations. You look at your explanations and ask, “Is it true?”

But sometimes you can’t answer that question. Either you don’t know or the answer cannot be known at all. That’s a good place to use reframing.

You must explain events. If you don’t do it deliberately, your brain will do it automatically. What explanation should you use? When you don’t know whether an explanation is true or false, what criteria should you use?

The only intelligent criteria to use in that case is, “How helpful is it?” Does your explanation help you feel better and get more done, or does it hinder you?

If you find your interpretation isn’t either true or false (either you can’t find out or there is no objective way to decide), and you find out it is definitely not helpful, unfortunately, you can’t just leave it at that. You have to come up with another interpretation. Your mind will not allow “no explanation.”

Your explanation can certainly be provisional — good until something better comes along, like a scientific theory — but you’d better choose your best explanation or your brain will do it for you.

Learn how this can best be done: Grow Stronger With a Good Reframe.

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot


Placebos Are Getting Stronger?

>> Wednesday

What do you make of this headline: Placebos Are Getting More Effective. The article says over the last couple decades, placebos have been having an increasingly powerful effect. How can that be? My first thought was, "Maybe people are more gullible than they used to be." But the answer is far more interesting than that.

Research into the "placebo effect" started right after World War II. An anesthetist, Henry Beecher, was tending to American troops in Italy. Morphine was running low, so Beecher's assistant injected a soldier with saline water but told the soldier it was morphine.

Beecher was surprised to see the shot helped. When the war was over, Beecher started looking into this phenomenon.

In a long but fascinating article in Wired Magazine, Steve Silberman explains why placebos are getting stronger. Here's his answer in a nutshell:

The double-blind test against a placebo has become the gold standard for good research on drugs. The FDA requires it, and the "placebo response" (what percentage of people respond to a sugar pill) was established and has been used for years.

But nowadays, more and more drugs are for mental health issues, which are more influenced by the placebo effect than straight-ahead physical issues. Your own depression, for example, is more influenced by your expectations than, say, your cholesterol level.

The result is: If you combine and average all the experiments, you clearly see a stronger placebo effect over the years. Researchers may have to re-study drugs like Prozac and Paxil — it seems possible they may not be much better than placebos, now that we know the placebo effect is more pronounced for the mental health problems those drugs were tested for.

Another interesting finding is that researchers have gotten different placebo effects at different locations. Prozac, for example, has a greater effect in studies in America than in Europe.

Also, "a pill's shape, size, branding, and price all influence its effects on the body," wrote Silberman. "Soothing blue capsules make more effective tranquilizers than angry red ones, except among Italian men, for whom the color blue is associated with their national soccer team — Forza Azzurri!"

We call it the placebo effect, but it isn't a single effect. The body can produce many different physical reactions to expectation. If subjects think the placebo kills pain, their expectation rallies their bodies to increase the production of endorphins. If the subjects think the drug will make them relax, their bodies react by lowering the stress hormone level in the blood.

"Mechanisms like these can elevate mood, sharpen cognitive ability, alleviate digestive disorders, relieve insomnia, and limit the secretion of stress-related hormones like insulin and cortisol," writes Silberman.

In other words, expectation can rally the body to greater effort than it would normally make. Remember, these people are taking the placebo to alleviate a symptom they have been suffering with. Their bodies did not produce this effect on its own before taking the placebo. Their expectation — their belief — stimulated the body to do something it had not been doing up until that time; something the body was clearly capable of doing all along.

When I read this, I thought about aboriginal "healing ceremonies" where a shaman or other well-respected healer chants and blows smoke and says prayers, and maybe the family gathers around to participate in the ceremony. With that kind of activity and intention, it seems likely (if the sick person believed in it) that the ceremony could have many positive physical effects that could, in fact, really help the person heal.

If a pill handed to a Westerner by a doctor could rally the body in many different ways, it seems likely a healing ceremony performed by a shaman in that context could rally the body even more.

But most of us don't believe in that sort of thing, so what good does this do us? Well, we can change our beliefs, can't we? I'm not saying we should start believing in magic smoke, but we could change what we believe is possible. We could change a limiting belief we have about our potential or our future or our health. And if we did, couldn't that also change the way our bodies physically respond? Of course it could.

So how can you change a belief? Two of the best methods are the Antivirus for Your Mind and Slotralogy. The antivirus for your mind is a somewhat blunt instrument, requiring no sophistication or skill, but it works very effectively. Slotralogy works in a different way, and they work very well together.

If you're doing everything you can to reach a goal but you feel somehow stymied — whether that goal is physical or emotional, financial or personal or marital — it may be a limiting belief holding you back. Instead of continuing to beat your head against an invisible wall or persisting in something that hasn't worked in the past, try belief change. It's the next best thing to a magic pill.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.


Put Yourself Out Of Your Misery

>> Sunday

The ancient Hindus used the same technique as modern cognitive science to end human misery. Want to know what it is?

There isn't much to it: Just give up desires. Of course, you can't possibly do that permanently, but you can do it right now. Ask yourself, "What do I want right now?" You almost always want something. And the state of wanting is a state of discontent.

Whatever you want right now, just give it up. Say to yourself, "I don't want that." Decide you don't want it.

Don't worry, it'll come back. But for right now, you'll gain yourself a peace-of-mind break. This is not difficult, and you can do it.

Notice what you want right now, and let it go. Give it up. Then notice what else you want and let that one go too. You'll notice a relaxing feeling of contentment come over you.

If you don't notice that contentment, and you want to feel it, give up that desire too.

Learn more about this: The How of Tao.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.


Just One Thing For Health

>> Thursday

You have control over your mood to an astonishing degree. Anything from taking a nap to having a snack to antivirusing your mind can make you feel better in a very short time.

Some people are hesitant to improve their mood. People have told me before, “that’s just the way I feel right now,” and imply that if they were to try to change their mood it would be dishonest. 


They clearly haven’t thought that one through. Your mood changes like the weather. You are not your moods any more than you are the water that moves through your body.

It would be similar to saying, “My body just stinks. That’s the way I smell right now,” and that is your reason for not showering. As if showering would be dishonest. It’s just stupid. If you don’t want to put out any effort to feel better just because it feels better, then think about doing it for better health. Or do it because it will improve the moods of those around you. Or because it makes you more effective in dealing with people. 

There are many good reasons to improve your mood and no good reason to continue in a bad mood when you can easily change it.

One man told me it bothered him that when he was at work and he was in a bad mood, his co-workers didn’t like it. “I feel like I’m obligated to pretend to feel good when I don’t.”

“What makes you think you’re obligated,” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he sighed, “they try to cheer me up, or they give me a bad time about being grumpy, or they get short-tempered with me like they’re mad at me for not feeling good.”

“That’s interesting,” I said. “I remember reading a study on charisma. They had three people in a room just sit there. One of them was naturally charismatic, and the other two were not. They were told to just sit there and not say anything for a little while. At the end of that short time, without saying a word, the moods of the two less-charismatic people had moved toward the mood of the charismatic person.”

He looked puzzled.

“In other words,” I explained, “They tested the moods of all three before and after sitting in the room together. Let’s say the charismatic person was feeling irritable beforehand. Maybe one of the other people was feeling cheerful. After sitting in the room, the cheerful (but uncharismatic) person was more irritable.

“All I’m saying is that moods are contagious, and that is especially so when someone is charismatic, like yourself. So probably when you’re in a bad mood, it starts ruining the mood of the people around you and they are resisting that.”

“What, so I’m responsible for their moods now?” He didn’t seem to happy about this.

“There is some good and bad to just about anything. When you’re charismatic, it’s great because you make friends easily, people like you, you're more persuasive, you have more influence on others, and so on. But the downside is that people pay more attention to your moods and that may seem like a burden, but it is nothing more than being in a position of leadership. Charisma is a power. And like the uncle in
Spiderman said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’”

He laughed but he got the point too. And I hope you do too.

It's also true that he doesn't have to pretend to be in a good mood. He could actually get into a good mood.

Whatever the cause of your mood, it is almost always true that you can do something about it. If you feel stressed, you can meditate or do some aerobic exercise. If you feel like you have no energy you could have a cup of coffee or move faster or go for a walk or take a nap or make sure you get more sleep or change your diet. If you feel angry, you could use the antivirus for the mind or write in a diary or talk to a friend. If you feel lonely, you could reach out and communicate with someone or read a good book on relationships. For more ideas, check out The Top Ten Ways To Raise Your Mood.

Ask yourself how you can improve your mood at the moment, and keep asking until you come up with some good answers, and then pick one and do it.

When you want to improve your mood, simply ask the question: What’s one healthy thing I could do today to feel better?

Adam Khan is the author of See Her Smile and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It.



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