Good News You Probably Haven't Heard

>> Saturday

The following is an excerpt from an article by Nicholas Kristof, originally published in the New York Times:

Students in Harper, Liberia.
We journalists are a bit like vultures, feasting on war, scandal and disaster. Turn on the news, and you see Syrian refugees, Volkswagen corruption, dysfunctional government.

Yet that reflects a selection bias in how we report the news: We cover planes that crash, not planes that take off. Indeed, maybe the most important thing happening in the world today is something that we almost never cover: a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy and disease.

Huh? You’re wondering what I’ve been smoking! Everybody knows about the spread of war, the rise of AIDS and other diseases, the hopeless intractability of poverty.

One survey found that two-thirds of Americans believed that the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost doubled over the last 20 years. Another 29 percent believed that the proportion had remained roughly the same.

When 95 percent of Americans are completely unaware of a transformation of this magnitude, that reflects a flaw in how we journalists cover the world — and I count myself among the guilty. Consider:
• The number of extremely poor people (defined as those earning less than $1 or $1.25 a day, depending on who’s counting) rose inexorably until the middle of the 20th century, then roughly stabilized for a few decades. Since the 1990s, the number of poor has plummeted.

• In 1990, more than 12 million children died before the age of 5; this toll has since dropped by more than half.

• More kids than ever are becoming educated, especially girls. In the 1980s, only half of girls in developing countries completed elementary school; now, 80 percent do.

Read the whole article here: The Most Important Thing, and It's Almost a Secret.

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Confession and Repentance

>> Tuesday

The two oldest known self-help techniques in the world are confession and repentance. Before you can change, you must be able to admit (at least to yourself) what you're doing that isn't good. Before you can be honest with another, you have to at least admit the truth to yourself. Or to someone you trust. That's confession.

Repentance means a change of heart. Up until now you've been doing whatever you've been doing and justifying it or excusing it in some way. Repentance is no longer making excuses. It means admitting you no longer want to live that way. Repentance is a change in values. It means something else is now more important to you than the rewards you got from the old way.

After confession and repentance, you're in a position to honestly change your life.

This is not a superficial technique. If you're ready to change something that has not yielded before to more casual attempts, take the time and speak to yourself or someone you trust with complete candor. What are your flaws? What character defect is keeping your life stuck and causing problems? That's confession.

And what values do you have that keep that character defect in place? Are they really what you value most? Think about it. Answer truthfully. What do you value more? That's repentance. Ask these questions of yourself. Take the time and be honest.

This method can not only solve your difficult problem, it can simultaneously solve many others as a side effect. It can also lead to a wonderful feeling of aliveness.

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.

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Altruism Truism

>> Monday

In an article entitled If It Feels Good to Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural, the author says we've got it all wrong. Being kind or generous or altruistic isn't something painful or difficult or something that requires you to force yourself to be unselfish. We've gotten the wrong impression because our parents made us share our toys and religions tell us to love our enemies.

Being kind and generous and altruistic is natural and pleasurable, and the effort people have spent persuading us to be good to others has turned something enjoyable into a chore.

You don't have to be stuck with that point of view, however. What you can do instead is focus on the rewards, the pleasure, the happiness, and the good feelings that your acts of kindness can give you. In other words, you can look at opportunities to be generous or giving or altruistic as moments of happiness you could be enjoying. You can stop looking at them as something you "should" do.

People are basically good. I know there are sociopaths in the world, and they may not be good in any sense of the word. But normal, healthy people, however they may be behaving at the moment, have within them a built-in reward system that gives them pleasure when they perform acts of kindness, random or otherwise, for their fellow humans (or other animals).

How can this help you raise your mood? Simple. If you've been thinking you "should" be kind to others, and you make yourself do it (or feel guilty for not doing it) you can give all that up. Change the way you think about it. Remind yourself that kindness toward others is a source of happiness for you. You don't have to do it. You "shouldn't" do it. But if you want to feel good, you'll definitely want to do it.

This change in your perspective will make your acts of kindness more enjoyable for you, and encourage you to do more, which will make you feel good more often. And oddly enough, the recipient of your kindness will be happier too. Think about it. Would you rather someone did something for you because they enjoyed it or because they felt they should?

Change your perspective about helping others, and everyone wins.

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.

Read more...

Good Moods Help You Lose Weight

>> Friday

Cortisol is known as "the stress hormone" because it's released in the bloodstream when you feel stressed. Cortisol raises your insulin level which makes you store fat, especially around your midsection (the least healthy place to store it).

Cortisol also stimulates your appetite, especially for sweet and starchy foods, which makes you take in more calories.

This is how stress and bad moods can contribute to weight gain. The antidote is to lower your stress level, and the most enjoyable way to lower stress is to raise your mood.

The more often you're in a good mood, the lower your daily cortisol level will be, and that will help you lose weight and stay slim.

Below are three quick and easy ways to raise your mood (each link goes to an article). Use these tools often:

1. Behave your way into a better mood.

2. Ask yourself one easy question.

3. Become less certain about something.

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

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Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot

>> Thursday

Feeling motivated is an especially good mood. When you feel upbeat, energetic and fully alive because you're so motivated, it is one of the best moods you can experience.

Do you think motivation is either something you have or you don't? Did you know you can do things that will cultivate your own motivation? Find out how in my new book, Cultivating Fire.

While it's true that sometimes you are naturally motivated, especially immediately after deciding on a goal, it is also true that you can take actions that nourish and encourage a feeling of motivation — or you can let the feeling of motivation do what it naturally does most of the time: fade away.

Motivation is a tremendous power. A highly motivated person can accomplish seemingly impossible things. In this tiny book, you will learn how to stoke your inner fire — how to get and keep your motivation burning white hot. This not only makes you more capable of accomplishment, but it makes life more fun.

Would you like to see what you are really capable of? Intense motivation can unleash it.

Read more...

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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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