Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Women and Men

>> Tuesday

Earnest people throughout history have expressed the goal of attaining peace on earth. Many methods have been proposed and tried, but not many of those ideas have been practical. But in an interview with Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, I heard her say something that made me think of one possible way to make some actual headway toward the goal of "peace on earth."

She said if more people knew about sociopaths, there would be less war in the world.

She was dead serious, and I think she may be right. We could bring about a more peaceful world by making an understanding of sociopaths widespread. Consider these facts:

1. According to the famous Milgram experiments, 65 percent of people follow the orders of an authority.

2. Sociopaths want to win. They seek control. They are excellent manipulators. They don't care who gets hurt. They don't care who lives or dies.

3. They sometimes make it to positions of power, sometimes even becoming the leader of a country. And they do what sociopaths do: They take advantage, they get away with whatever they can, and when they are in a position of strength, they sometimes invade or threaten other countries, causing war.

If more people knew the characteristics of a sociopath, more people would identify them for what they are before they gain too much authority and power. Fewer sociopaths would make it to positions of authority.

Result: Fewer wars.

There would be less horror and misery in the world.

The truth is, even though it is a common belief that "man is a violent species," we are not. But when sociopaths gain positions of supreme authority and start wars, 65 percent will obey authority, and most of the rest will be fooled and manipulated into supporting the cause (or locked up or executed).

The result is war. Most people who actually fight in wars feel terrible about what they experience. They don't want to kill or hurt other human beings. They feel they have to (to save their country, to save the people they love, to stop a dictator from taking over the world, to save their fellow soldiers in the battle, etc.).

But the point is, the only reason sociopaths are able to get away with as much as they do is because most people are so ignorant about sociopaths. Not very many people know about the existence of such a thing as "common, everyday sociopaths." And even if they do, they don't know the easily-identifiable characteristics of a sociopath. They don't know how to spot them.

If you do, you can share your knowledge with others. If you don't, you can learn about it here. Then you can share what you've learned far and wide and in every way you can. And urge everyone you know to help you spread the knowledge.

Ask people, "Did you know there are sociopaths among us?" Ask people of they know what a sociopath is. Ask people, "Did you know one in fifty people is a sociopath?" Ask these questions with people you know and talk about it. Most people don't know, and at the very least, it makes for interesting conversation. Ask people, "Did you know there is no known therapy for sociopaths? And in fact, therapy usually makes them worse because it helps them get better at manipulating people?" Ask people if they know how to spot a sociopath.

Learn about sociopaths and teach the others in your life about it. This will give you a long-range sense of purpose, which will raise your mood. But this simple thing could also change the course of history. You could help bring the cherished dream of humanity closer to reality.

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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Exercise Beats Depression

>> Thursday

A study by the Black Dog Institute showed that "people who have suffered clinical depression believe that of all the therapies and techniques (not including drugs and psychotherapies) it is exercise that helps the most, followed by yoga/meditation, relaxation and massage."

I've seen studies like this before with similar conclusions, and I've never seen one that refutes this claim. One way to look at it is: Exercise beats depression, as if exercise were a kind of drug. Another way to look at it is that the lack of exercise is unnatural. In other words, depression is a side-effect of a severe exercise-deficiency.

If you assume human bodies need exercise to be healthy and happy (or at least undepressed), then exercise would function like any other essential. If you don't get enough vitamin C, your connective tissue begins to disintegrate (scurvy). If you don't get enough vitamin B-3, your skin peels and you start going insane (pellagra). And if you don't get enough physical exercise, you lose your ability to rise out of depression.

It's something to think about, anyway. At least it's something to try that won't hurt and has other positive benefits even if it doesn't completely lift one's depression. If you know someone who is depressed or discouraged, send them this article, and also the article, Undemoralize Yourself.

Exercise works for all of us. Even if you're not depressed, a little exercise usually raises your mood. It's an all-purpose moodraiser that just about anyone can use. If you haven't exercised in the last couple days and you're not feeling as good as you would like, try doing some exercise today and see if that helps. I'll bet it will.

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 about the benefits of exercise: Where To Tap.

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The Only Technique You Need to Live the Life You've Always Wanted

>> Sunday

That's a big title to live up to, but assuming you're willing to do the work, the technique will more than match the title. The method is simple: Clearly and persistently envision your goals. In detail.

That's it. Everything else flows from it — the work you do, the ideas for what to do, the motivation to do it, the insights into how to solve problems — all this springs forth naturally when you clearly envision your goals often.

It's a good idea to set goals and write them down. But deliberately visualizing your goals in detail adds so much power to goal-setting, it'll put you in another league.

"But," you might be thinking, "whenever I set a goal, I already have a picture of what I think it will be like." And I'm sure that's true. But have you closed your eyes and relaxed and imagined your goal in its completeness? Have you envisioned all the details you can come up with? And have you done that many times?

My guess is: Probably not. Visualizing goals is one of those things you often hear successful people mention, but you hear it and ignore it, for one reason or another. I ignored it for a long time because I wasn't very good at visualizing. But making mental pictures is a skill like any other, and I've gotten better with practice.

If you're ready to take your life to a whole new stratosphere, start envisioning your goals. Give it twenty minutes at a time. Sit down, close your eyes and relax as deeply as you can. It's best to sit up so you won't fall asleep. Sitting up rather than lying down also helps you control your visions better. On your back, your images tend to drift.

If you relax first, it will be easier to envision positive outcomes. When you're not relaxed, fears and worries are more likely to pop up in your visualizations (here's one way to relax).

Once you're relaxed, imagine the accomplishment of your goal. See what you would see. Start with how you would know. For example, I envision a million subscribers to Moodraiser.com. When I accomplish the goal, how will I know it happened? I would look at my Feedburner stats and see the number 1,000,000 (or more).

After you've reached your goal, what will you do? Who will you tell? What will you do next? Visualize all these things. See the look on your spouse's face. On your kid's face. How will you feel? See and feel and hear all this and more, in detail. Hear what they would say and how they would say it.

Let yourself become absorbed in the vision.

Doing this regularly has tremendous consequences. First of all, it will put you in a good mood more often. When you have a clear goal, when you know what you want and are working toward it, your mood will rise.

One of the most powerful consequence of envisioning your goals is the way it changes your interpretations of ordinary events. You will find yourself naturally — without trying — reframing the events of your life in a more constructive way. For example, after envisioning my goal of a million subscribers, the next day if a reader writes to me and says, "I'm unsubscribing because your articles are too long," how do I take that?

Normally I might feel bad, at least a little. But with a clear, tangible, envisioned goal, this same comment doesn't bring me down. Instead, it makes me think, "I should look into this because if this is a common opinion, I could get more subscribers by keeping my articles short."

See what happened? My clearly envisioned goal caused me to automatically reframe the criticism in a constructive way.

You'll find this happening a lot. Annoyances or upsetting events are transformed into the perfect lessons to help you get where you want to go.

The most noticeable consequence of regularly envisioning your goals is the way it changes how you think about your goal and how you can make it happen. Solutions and ideas pop into your mind spontaneously. Something about getting a clear mental picture of your goal stimulates your creative powers.

It feels like reverse engineering. When I imagine my goals, it gets me to think about how it happened. What led to the accomplishment? I'm looking back from the future, and I can see things I need to be doing now for that to happen. It's a very natural process, but produces surprising insights and great ideas. I have often thought, "Why didn't I think of that before?" Something about envisioning the goal changes the way you see the space between then and now.

You already set goals. You already work toward them. Now add one more thing: Envision your goals clearly and in detail. It will lead to more accomplishment and better moods. I can see it now. Can you?

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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