Behavior Is Contagious – Especially With Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia face many obstacles.

We live with fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain and other symptoms. We work to find ways to manage this syndrome. We seek coping mechanisms. Many fibro patients have overlook the importance of who and what we surround ourselves with.

  • This can have a dramatic affect on how we cope.

Conserving energy is an important part to coping with “Fibro Fatigue”. It takes far more energy to deal with negative people. Energy when you don’t have any left to expend.

Let’s look at who we surround ourselves with and the effects on our lives.

People You Should Remove from Your Life

  1. You have to cut the “downers” the negative people
  2. You have to cut out the “distractors”
  3. You have to get rid of “people who play the victim”
  4. You have to stay away from “know-it-alls”
  5. You have to dump the “drama queens/kings”

Neuroscience 101
Good and Bad Behavior Is Contagious

One study found that emotions circulate through interpersonal relationships just like the flu virus.

These patterns can actually be tracked statistically just like the flu virus.

  • Each positive person you surround yourself with increases your chances of being positive by eleven percent.
  • Each negative person you let into your life more than doubles your chances of being negative.

Understanding Why This Happens

A mirror neuron is a cell in your brain that fires both when you act and when you observe another person acting.  Interacting with other people engages your mirror neuron system. 

This brain mechanism causes you to copy other people whether you want to or not. If you spend enough time with anyone, no matter who it is, you will start to mimic their behavior.

This means you need to start cutting negative people out of your life right now.

Here is a short 2 minute video
explaining mirror neurons

Here are five types of people
to start avoiding now!

# 1 The “Downer”

Some people can walk into a room and light it up. Other people walk into a room and kill it.

  • Downers Are Those That Kill Positive Energy

They are those people who seem to have a dark cloud following them wherever they go. These people are unlucky, negative and always depressed.

Don’t feel bad for these people. Odds are:

They like being miserable
WHY?
They like the attention it gives them

You must drop unhappy people from your life. Why?

Because your happiness and your physical health depends on it. Research shows that being exposed to negative people pulls away neurons in your hippocampus. This is the part of your brain that is responsible for problem solving. This means that negative people literally rot your brain

Stop hanging out with people who suck away your energy

#2 Avoid Distracting People

Distractors come in a variety of flavors

  • There are those annoying people who drive you nuts.
  • People who make you focus on them instead of focusing on yourself and your mission.

Distractors are also those people that are truly amazing or really hot or incredibly brilliant.]

  • Those people who catch your eye for one reason or another.
  • Distractors make you forget about your goals and everything that you’ve set out to do in life.

A lot of promising futures
have been sacrificed to these distractors.

Some people drop out of school or quit a job they love, just to be closer to a distracting person. This allows them stay in that distracting relationship.

Others get hooked on celebrity gossip or get rich quick schemes

  • Everything that glitters is not always gold.
  • Most shiny things are just distractions and this can include people.

Don’t let any person make you forget that you are amazing – and that you have something amazing to offer the world.

#3 Stay Away from People Who Play the Victim

Don’t know how to identify a victim?

Here’s what you look for:

  • Look for people who preach self-sacrifice
  • Look for people who try to make you feel guilty for your strengths
  • Look for people who try to make you feel guilty for your accomplishments
  • Look for people who try to make you feel bad just because they are feeling bad

Victims are:

  • Masters of positioning themselves on the moral high ground
  • Using obligation to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do.
  • People who like to make you feel responsible for their happiness.

No one is responsible for someone else’s happiness

#4 Stay away from know-it-alls

Know-it-alls are those people who will never let you live down past mistakes. They bring you down by using  the psychological phenomenons of “Imposter Syndrome” and “Negativity Bias.”

Imposter Syndrome is describe as the inability to internalize your own accomplishments. It’s that voice in your head that creeps up every now and then telling you that you’re a phony and it’s only a matter of time until people find out.

Negativity Bias on the other hand refers to your brains preference for negative information over positive information.

  • Never allow anyone to make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t let some” Know-it-All” use these techniques against you.
  • Focus on where you are now. Not on your past mistakes.

#5 Refuse to be around drama queens.

Drama queens/kings are those people who love conflict. They are addicted to drama and to winning arguments no matter the cost. Even if there’s nothing to be won. Drama queens love drama for the sake of drama.

  • They don’t want to win or find a solution they just want the drama.
  • Their minds are simple and their lives are boring.
  • The only way they can fill a sense of purpose in life is by creating drama.
  • Don’t let these people suck you into their drama.

Any time you spend trying to correct or even understand a drama queen is a waste of time. You are better off ignoring these people period.

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Addiction Will Affect Your Relationship

EDITORS NOTE:

CITB focuses on chronic illness. I have personally experienced and live with the chronic illness of substance abuse. This is a guest post by Caleb Anderson of RecoveryHope.org. RecoveryHope.org was started by Caleb and Molly Anderson after Caleb received treatment for opiate addiction. Molly has made it her mission to learn how to help Caleb fight his battles and support him in his recovery. Together they now help others by providing research and resources about the many challenges of overcoming drug and alcohol addictions.

We thank Caleb and Molly for their contribution to  CITB. We know you will enjoy their insights. Please visit their website RecoveryHope.org for more information on substance  abuse and recovery.


There are plenty of ways relationships can become strained. It’s possible to have a strong, healthy relationship, but it’s not easy. It takes work.

When you add an addiction to the relationship, things get much harder. Substance abuse can challenge even the strongest relationship, and many couples break up over it. Thankfully, there are actions you can take to both help your partner and save your relationship. But before you can help, you need to know whether your partner has a problem.

Substance Abuse Leads To Unhealthy Relationships

How do you know if your partner is struggling with addiction? Medical News Today lists a number of signs and symptoms of addiction to watch for, including: bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness, obsession, denial, etc.

The Mayo Clinic has an exhaustive list of signs related to specific addictions, including marijuana, opiates, and cocaine.

Having a relationship with an addict can lead to pain and stress. It can also lead to heartbreak because addiction can lead to infidelity. Swift River explains this is due to several factors, including a higher chance of risky behavior such as sex with others. Some even use sex as payment for whatever they need.

How You Might Be Enabling

Whether it’s secrecy, anger, or infidelity, the addict is responsible for their own behavior. However, there are ways you might be enabling your partner’s addiction. Enabling is when you help your partner to continue abusing substances even if you don’t realize it. Here are a few ways you might be contributing to the addiction:

  • Ignoring evidence that they have a substance abuse problem.
  • Helping them avoid the consequences of addiction.
  • Buying or using the same drugs and alcohol along with them.
  • Failing to hold them responsible when you’ve set boundaries or rules that are not met.

Even if you mean well, you can enable addiction because your partner has no reason to change. Addicts often need to get treatment or hit “rock bottom” before they realize how bad things have become due to their addiction. Protecting your partner makes it harder for them to get help.

Helping Your Loved One

Then how can you help your partner get better? Many people think about staging an intervention, but as Psychology Today notes, these should be last-ditch efforts as there’s no evidence they help an addict in the long-run. Instead, you need to politely and gently convince your partner to go to a doctor or therapist. Focus on how it’s hurting the relationship and ask, not tell, if they would consider getting help.

Once they have entered addiction recovery treatment, you need to be loving and accepting of your partner. Work with your loved one to find healthy habits and activities. This can mean social activities with friends who don’t use as well as healthy ones like yoga, exercising, or just taking a nice walk. Not only will this help your partner get better, but it can heal the relationship as well.

Don’t Let Addiction Ruin Your Relationship

The worst thing you can do when facing your partner’s addiction is to ignore it. This actually enables substance abuse. Instead, understand how addiction impacts your relationship. Then you can focus on getting your loved one the help they need to get sober. By helping your partner, you are also helping your relationship.

 

Please visit RecoveryHope.org for more information on substance  abuse and recovery

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8 Moves to Make When You Want to Give Up

Taking the easy road is nice for a while, but for talented, motivated people it isn’t enough. To find satisfaction you’ll need to set ambitious goals, solve challenging problems, and develop strengths you may not know you have.

Although the hard road is more fulfilling, it isn’t all champagne and victory laps. There will be times when you feel beaten and depressed — times when quitting looks like the best option. There is no formula for dealing with hard times, but these 8 steps will help you understand your predicament and determine the best course of action.

1. Take A  Break

One reason we get down on ourselves is fatigue. When you’re tired everything is harder. You’ll also get bored. Fatigue and boredom combine to cause burnout — one of the biggest reasons people quit. When faced with burnout, the best thing to do is take a break. Cut yourself off completely. Do absolutely nothing for a day or two. What’s the worst that could happen? By allowing yourself to recover you’ll be more productive in the long run.

2. Step Back

Sometimes we get so absorbed in our own sphere that we develop a distorted picture of reality. When you feel like giving up, there’s a good chance that things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem, and there’s a simple solution that you’re overlooking. When things seem bleak, distance yourself from the situation to gain an accurate perspective. What would someone without any emotional involvement do? Asking this question will help you make optimal decisions.

3. Do Your Research

The only constant in the universe is change, but when you’re plugging away with your head down it’s easy not to notice. People often make decisions based on outdated assumptions made months, or even years earlier. To develop a course of action, you’ll need to know where you stand. Stop to evaluate your position.

  • What do you have?
  • What do you want?
  • What opportunities still exist?
  • What new opportunities have arisen?

By taking stock of the current situation, you’ll discover if your urge to quit is a passing whim or the correct decision.

4. Consult an Expert

When your knowledge base is insufficient you should seek an expert opinion. This doesn’t mean you have to make contact with a world class expert, anyone who knows more than you will be able to help. Think of friends, family, and business associates. Have any of them been in your position before? The web can also be a great resource, just be careful who you trust. Check out relevant forums or email a reputable blogger. I’m consistently impressed with the effort people expend to help total strangers.

5. Re-evaluate Your Strategy

Once you’re well informed, apply that knowledge to revamping your strategy. If you feel like giving up, you might be doing something wrong. This is the time to pour over your efforts and determine what works.

  • What actions have lead to the greatest benefit?
  • What mistakes have been made?
  • What can be improved?

By answering these questions you’ll fine tune your strategy. The urge to give up is a blessing when it leads to analysis and constructive adjustments.

6. Change Course

Knowing what’s wrong and how you can fix it is a relief. Unlike an invisible monster hovering over you, an exposed problem can be directly assaulted. Once you’ve determined a change needs to be made, implement it full force. Don’t hesitate or dwell on past mistakes. Trust your own judgment and deal with new issues as they arise.

7. Push Through the Dip

In some cases you might feel like giving up even though you’re doing all the right things. This is called “the dip” — the plateau that separates the average from the best in the world. Knowing what to do when you hit the dip is so important. In you’ve hit the dip and you can honestly say that going forward is the best decision, lower your shoulder and plow ahead until you reach the other side. It might not be pleasant but the rewards are tremendous. If you make it.

8. Quit

We don’t have thoughts and emotions for nothing. Sometimes quitting is the best decision. Maybe you didn’t know what you were getting into. Maybe your priorities have changed. Maybe you’d be better doing something else. If you know deep down that quitting is the right move, do it. Don’t hesitate because of previously invested effort. That’s a sunk cost. If you ignore your better judgment and continue you’ll waste more time and energy.

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Learn to Understand Your Own Intelligence

Several years ago I listened to a lecture on cognition that changed the way I think about intelligence. This is the crux. There are two types of cognition. The first is normal cognition. This is the ability to retrieve knowledge from memory. When you are asked a question on a test and produce an answer, that’s a display of cognitive ability. The second type of cognition is metacognition; the ability to know whether or not you know.

Have you ever been asked a question that you knew the answer to, but you couldn’t find the right word? This is called the “tip of the tongue” phenomenon and I’m sure we’ve all experienced it. You know that you know the answer, but you fail to produce it. If someone said an answer, you would know instantly if it was correct or not. In these cases metacognition exists without cognition.

In short, cognition is knowing, metacognition is knowing if you know or not. Both can exist together, but many times they don’t.

How Does this Affect Intelligence?

So what importance does this have and how is it relevant to self improvement? The fact that there are two different kinds of cognitive ability means that there are different types of intelligence.

In traditional education, intelligence is measured by cognitive ability. For some people this is works well. They can easily produce everything they know on a test. But for others it doesn’t work out so well. The people that know something cold but can’t find the right words on a test are awarded with poor grades and considered inferior.

But does this inability make them any less intelligent? They know the answer. If the question came up on a task, they could refer to a book or a quick Google search. In reality they’re just as effective as the people that aced the test. They just can’t prove it as easily.

The Importance of Knowing what you know

Unless you’re taking a test or playing Jeopardy, metacognition is more important to success than cognition. In real life, when you’re faced with a question the first decision is whether you know the answer or not. With strong metacognitive ability this is easy. If you know the answer, but can’t come up with it, you can always do a bit of research. If you know for sure that you don’t know, then you can start educating yourself. Because you’re aware of your ignorance, you don’t act with foolish confidence. The person who thinks they know something that they really don’t makes the worst decisions.

A person with poor cognitive ability, but great metacognitive ability is actually in great shape. They might do poorly in school, but when faced with a challenge they understand their abilities and take the best course of action. These people might not seem intelligent at first glance, but because they know what they know, they make better decisions and learn the most important things.

Clever but mediocre people

At the opposite end of the spectrum are people with great cognitive ability but poor metacognitive ability. These people are proclaimed geniuses at a young age for acing every test and getting great SAT scores. Unfortunately, they’ve been ruined by poor metacognition; they think they know everything but they really don’t. They are arrogant, fail to learn from mistakes, and don’t understand the nuances of personal relationships; showing disdain for persons with lower cognitive ability.

So who is superior? In a battle of wits the higher cognitive ability prevails, but life is not a single encounter. It is a series of experiments in succession, each building upon the last. Learning requires knowing what you don’t know, and taking steps to learn what you need to. People with poor metacognitive ability never realize that they don’t ‘get it’. They also don’t realize what’s important.

This doesn’t preclude them from material success. But, perhaps that’s a poor measurement of intelligence as well. There are many people who become rich and successful by their cleverness and cognitive ability, but as human beings are quite mediocre. Is the man that makes a million dollars, but is cruel and abusive to his employees and family, really more intelligent than the poor man who lives a modest and loving life? I don’t intend to demonize wealth, only to state that it should not be the measure of virtue.

Use your metacognitive ability

So what do we know and what do we not? And how can we tell the difference? There is so much to know in the world that the most brilliant human minds can grasp only the tiniest fraction. For this reason we should always be in doubt of what we know. The closed mind is oblivious to its surroundings, while the open mind absorbs them. Like a sponge, it soaks up observations, becoming fuller and more robust.

But we can’t live in total doubt. If we did we would never act, paralyzed by our inadequate knowledge. We must trust our intuition. If something makes you feel a certain way, that feeling is real and must be respected. Act based on your own convictions, not those of others, and keep an open ear for new ideas.

The most important mental power is the ability to know what you don’t know. The recognition of a fault is the first step to improvement. Don’t try to hide a lack of knowledge. People will see through it and you’ll appear foolish and arrogant. If you admit your ignorance, people will help you learn and respect your humility. For intelligent people this is the toughest lesson to learn. We are used to being right, and consider being wrong shameful. We’re afraid to lose status by looking stupid. This vain arrogance is a great weakness and the source of many problems. To crush it and embrace humility is the mark of true wisdom.

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The “Right” Path

Religion is one of the two taboo subjects that many of us have been told, often at a young age, not to discuss if we wish to avoid offending anyone (the other is politics), yet sooner or later it often comes up in discussions. Many people feel a need to belong to some form of religion. I am not going to say that it is right or wrong to be part of any religion — indeed, that varies among individuals. Some people seem to be quite happy in their religion, and receive a great deal of comfort from their beliefs. Others seem to have no need for religion at all. Still others join a religion because they perceive it will bring some sort of benefit to them, be it financial, physical, or spiritual.

The main reason that religion is a “hot potato” subject is because some people feel it is their right, or their duty, to impose their religious beliefs on others. They believe that their beliefs are the correct ones, and that those who don’t believe as they do are wrong, or even evil. It’s actually not too dissimilar from the way a member of one political party might see it as their right or duty to convince others that their party is right, and the other party is evil. Those who don’t share those views generally don’t appreciate being told they are wrong!

At the heart of it, most traditional religion is based in part on fear. On a spiritual level, the fear is that you will not measure up to the expectations of deity, or some “higher power”. On a more pragmatic level, the fear is often that if you can’t force others to adopt your beliefs, they might impose their beliefs on you. Wars have been fought because of the underlying fear that we have to kill them before they kill us. It’s only in relatively recent times that a majority of people have started to understand that it’s possible for people of varying beliefs to coexist peacefully, and unfortunately there are still many people that don’t seem to understand this.

People who’ve had near-death experiences (NDE’s) have stated that if they asked about religion during their NDE, they were told that the best religion is the one that brings you closest to God. Of course, a person that felt no need for religion probably wouldn’t ask that question in the first place. But there are no reports of anyone having a NDE and being told that they should belong to a specific religion or denomination!

If you don’t belong to any religion now, my advice to you would be to think long and hard, and do some research on the Internet, before you join. Very often, when people are trying to get you to join their religion, they will seem to love you to death and truly care about you, perhaps even more than anyone else in your life has ever cared for you. The problem is that such “love” is almost always both time-limited and conditional. Once you have joined their religion, they will move on to some other hot prospect that they are trying to get to join, and suddenly you’ll no longer feel like the center of their attention. But worse yet, their love may well be conditional on you believing the things they teach you (no matter how absurd, ridiculous, or even hateful), and behaving the way they want you to. If you should start to question any of their teachings, you become a “problem” to them, and you will find yourself talked to the way a disapproving parent might talk to a stepchild — or maybe even invited to leave.

If you are already involved in a religion, and you feel that you receive comfort and joy from it, and it encourages you to love others and help them when you can, then maybe the only real reason to consider leaving them is if they try to get you to do things that would hurt others. That could be anything from attempting to impose your beliefs on other people, to hating them because they are not part of your group, or don’t meet up with some standard of morality that your religion attempts to uphold. Those are the very things that have been responsible for starting bloody conflicts in past and recent times. Also, please be aware that some religions are all about power and money — specifically, how much of those they can take from their followers for the benefit of the leaders. If the leaders of the religion are constantly telling people to give money to their organization, while they are living the high life (with nice houses, fancy cars, luxurious vacations, and even air-conditioned doghouses for their pets), then they are using deception to steal from their followers. In a few high profile cases they have gotten in trouble and even spent time in prison for this, but that’s the exception rather than the rule — more often than not, the leaders get away with it and are never brought to justice.

However, even if that’s not the case, it might be a good idea to reflect upon why you belong to that religion from time to time. Think about what caused you to join in the first place. Were your parents members, and they forced you to attend, and it just became habit? Did you join because someone convinced you that you might go to some bad place when you die if you didn’t? Or did you perhaps join because you thought you had found a group of people that truly cared about you? Think about the reasons you joined, and then ask yourself, “If I had known then what I know now, would I still have joined?” And also, “Did I have any expectations of what would happen that have not yet been fulfilled?” In short, does your religion truly bring you closer to God, or your “higher power”, or the Universe, or whatever you consider to be the highest and most loving force in all of creation?

If not, perhaps it’s time to find a spiritual path that more completely resonates with you. People on the “wrong” path (which is to say, in the “wrong” religion) often feel quite unhappy and unfulfilled, and often live in fear that somehow they’ll be subjected to some form of eternal punishment (though they may be quite unwilling to admit such thoughts, even to themselves). They may not enjoy participating in their religion’s rituals, or attending the designated place of worship. They may find prayer or meditation boring, or even infuriating, because they don’t ever see any results (but the religion will say it’s their fault). While these things can happen even to people who haven’t strayed from their path, those who are on the “wrong” path often come to a point where they just can’t continue in their present religion. If they then find the right path for them, they often feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders, and that all the fear and dread that they experienced previously fades away.

For some people, the “right” path for this lifetime may be to not be part of any organized religion. That doesn’t mean that they cannot engage in some form of spiritual practice, such as meditation or prayer. It only means that they do not feel any need to attend, or receive any benefit from attending, formal meetings or going to a designated place of worship. Everyone is different, and what one person may see as an absolute requirement to be true to their beliefs, another person may see as irrelevant or even nonsense. If you try to convert such a person to your beliefs, you’ll just anger them and frustrate yourself — or worse yet, you’ll convince them to join and then regret doing so, because they will be constantly annoying you whenever the religion doesn’t meet their expectations (after all, you got them into this, so you should be the one to hear their complaints!). Even the religions that encourage proselytizing (that is, attempting to induce someone to convert to one’s faith, according to Merriam-Webster) usually recognize that there are people who just cannot be converted, even if they portray such people in an unfavorable light.

I personally think we’d all get along a lot better if we could all “live and let live” when it comes to our religious beliefs. That doesn’t mean we have to condone hate, or abuse, or attempts to control others, but when those things are not an issue, it’s probably best to let people find their own path. Of course, if someone starts asking questions about your faith or beliefs, then perhaps that means that they are destined to share your path for at least part of their journey through this lifetime, and in that case you can certainly answer their questions and share your beliefs. But if it makes you uncomfortable to talk about what you believe, that may be another indication that you’re not on the right path, or that you’re not being true to yourself and what you really believe. Taking time to reflect on what you believe and why you believe it encourages spiritual growth, and shouldn’t be avoided.

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Ten Truths About Lying and Liars

George O’Leary’s lies cost him the Notre Dame coach’s job in 2001 and lying about his résumé cost Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson his job.

Yet how common is lying?

Truth One

  • How often do most of us lie? About every 10 minutes. Not you, of course, which may be a lie. Most of us lie to grease the wheels of social compatibility, or so we tell ourselves.
  • Social psychologist Robert Feldman believes, “It’s tied in with self-esteem.”

Truth Two

  • Knowing when to say something and not be completely blunt is in fact a social skill,” Feldman said. “We don’t want to hear hurtful things, so a person who is totally honest may not be as popular as someone who lies. This is not to say lying is a good thing, but it is the way the social world operates.
  • More bizarrely people who lie tend to be more popular.

Truth Three

  • Lying is so common that people often don’t realize they’re doing it.”
  • “Deception is rampant” Allison Kornet, noted in a Psychology Today article that explored lying by people in the public eye, including politicians like Newt Gingrich, the young monk who falsely accused Cardinal Bernardin of molestation and “Joe Klein, the Newsweek columnist who adamantly swore for months that he had nothing to do with his anonymously-published novel Primary Colors.”

Truth Four

  • “Both men and women lie in approximately a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes; over the course of a week they deceive about 30 percent of those with whom they interact one-on-one.”

Truth Five

  • Guess who lies more convincingly. Boys or girls?

Truths Six to Nine

Social psychologist, Bella DePaulo and fellow researchers found that:

  • Lying is more common in phone calls than in face-to-face chats. Relatedly we are more candid when texting than when we say things aloud.
  • One lie in seven was discovered–as far as the liars could tell.
  • A tenth of the lies were merely exaggerations, while 60 percent were outright deceptions.
  • More than 70 percent of liars would tell their lies again.

Truth Ten

  • Ironically, those who see themselves as emotionally intelligent tend to be poor at spotting liars.

Admit it: You’ve lied.

You told a friend that his shirt looked stylish when you actually thought it was tacky and garish. Or maybe you said to your boss that her presentations were fascinating when in fact they were insipidly mindless. Or perhaps you told your landlord that the rent check was in the mail.

Don’t feel bad. You’re in good, dishonest company. A growing body of research shows that people lie constantly, that deception is pervasive in everyday life. One study found that people tell two to three lies every 10 minutes, and even conservative estimates show that we lie at least once a day. Such incessant prevarication might be a necessary social evil, and researchers have recently discovered that some fibbing might actually be good for you. “We use lies to grease the wheels of social discourse,” says University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman. “It’s socially useful to tell lies.”

Researchers have been studying deception for decades, trying to figure out why we tell lies. It turns out that we spin facts and make up fictions for all sorts of reasons. We might want to gain a raise or a reward, for example, or to protect friends or a lover. Our capacity for deceit appears nearly endless, from embroidering stories to wearing fake eyelashes to asking “How are you?” when we don’t actually care. We even lie to ourselves about how much food we eat and how often we visit the gym.

Small embellishments can have positive psychological effects, experts say. In a study released last year, researchers found that college students who exaggerated their GPA in interviews later showed improvement in their grades. Their fiction, in other words, became self-fulfilling. “Exaggerators tend to be more confident and have higher goals for achievement,” explains Richard Gramzow, a psychologist at the University of Southampton in England and one of the study’s coauthors. “Positive biases about the self can be beneficial.”

People who deceive themselves also tend to be happier than people who do not, some research suggests. There are social payoffs, too: Studies have shown that people who lie frequently are viewed as friendlier and more amiable than their more truthful counterparts. Still, lying is generally regarded as immoral and distasteful. “No one likes being lied to,” says former FBI agent and lying expert Joe Navarro. “We feel betrayed. When is it that they are telling the truth?” And people do really want to know the truth. A new Fox drama, Lie to Me, which features a steely British deception expert, has become one of the most popular shows on television.

Lying begins early. By the age of 3, most children know how to fib, and by 6, most lie a few times a day. Experts believe that children learn to lie by observing their parents do it—that they become practiced in the art of deception by imitating Mom and Dad.

Parents sometimes explicitly encourage children to tell lies. Grandma Suzy will send some ugly wool socks or an itchy sweater, and parents will ask their son or daughter to say the item is lovely. As one study concluded, children “may learn to lie in the same way as they learn to speak.”

Many experts don’t see much difference between a little lie (telling Grandma you loved the ugly socks) and a big lie (covering up an extramarital affair). “Anything that is not accurate is a lie. You can argue that a lie done to make someone else feel better is relatively minor. But they have an effect. The bottom line is that a lie is a lie,” says Feldman. “That’s the great paradox here. I do believe the more lies, the more degradation. But you can’t stop lies entirely. Society would grind to a halt.”

People act differently when they’re gilding a story and when they’re telling a massive whopper. When people tell a bold and blatant lie, they typically become tense and fidgety. Their heart rate speeds up. Their body temperature increases. But when telling white, or social, lies, they usually don’t feel any anxiety at all. In fact, electrodes attached to the bodies of students in Gramzow’s study revealed that the students who exaggerated their GPAs showed less nervous-system activity than students who were honest about their marks. “In certain situations it probably takes less thinking to tell the expected polite lie than the more difficult truth,”

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How To Meditate Daily

The habit of meditation is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever learned.

Amazingly, it’s also one of the most simple habits to do — you can do it anywhere, any time, and it will always have immediate benefits.

How many habits can you say that about?

While many people think of meditation as something you might do with a teacher, in a Zen Center, it can be as simple as paying attention to your breath while sitting in your car or on the train, or while sitting at the coffee shop or in your office, or while walking or showering.

It can take just one or two minutes if you’re busy. There’s no excuse for not doing it, when you simplify the meditation habit.

Why Meditate?

Why create a small daily meditation practice? There are countless reasons, but here are some of my favorite:

  • It relieves stress and helps you to relax.
  • When you practice mindfulness, you can carry it out to everyday life.
  • Mindfulness helps you to savor life, change habits, live simply and slowly, be present in everything you do.
  • Meditation has been shown to have mental benefits, such as improved focus, happiness, memory, self-control, academic performance and more.
  • Some research on meditation has indicated that it may have other health benefits, including improved metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and more.

Actually, some of the best benefits of meditation are hard to define — you begin to understand yourself better, for example, and form a self-awareness level you’ve never had before.

Most simply, sitting for just a few minutes of meditation is an oasis of calm and relaxation that we rarely find in our lives these days. And that, in itself, is enough.

How to Do It Daily

There are lots and lots of ways to meditate. But our concern is not to find a perfect form of meditation — it’s to form the daily habit of meditation. And so our method will b


1. Commit to just 2 minutes a day
. Start simply if you want the habit to stick. You can do it for 5 minutes if you feel good about it, but all you’re committing to is 2 minutes each day.

2. Pick a time and trigger. Not an exact time of day, but a general time, like morning when you wake up, or during your lunch hour. The trigger should be something you already do regularly, like drink your first cup of coffee, brush your teeth, have lunch, or arrive home from work.

3. Find a quiet spot. Sometimes early morning is best, before others in your house might be awake and making lots of noise. Others might find a spot in a park or on the beach or some other soothing setting. It really doesn’t matter where — as long as you can sit without being bothered for a few minutes. A few people walking by your park bench is fine.

4. Sit comfortably. Don’t fuss too much about how you sit, what you wear, what you sit on, etc. I like to sit on a pillow on the floor, with my back leaning against a wall, because I’m very inflexible. Others who can sit cross-legged comfortably might do that instead. Still others can sit on a chair or couch if sitting on the floor is uncomfortable. Zen practitioners often use a zafu, a round cushion filled with kapok or buckwheat. Don’t go out and buy one if you don’t already have one. Any cushion or pillow will do, and some people can sit on a bare floor comfortably.

5. Start with just 2 minutes. This is really important. Most people will think they can meditate for 15-30 minutes, and they can. But this is not a test of how strong you are at staying in meditation — we are trying to form a longer-lasting habit. And to do that, we want to start with just a two minutes. You’ll find it easier to start this way, and forming a habit with a small start like this is a method much more likely to succeed. You can expand to 5-7 minutes if you can do it for 7 straight days, then 10 minutes if you can do it for 14 straight days, then 15 minutes if you can stick to it for 21 straight days, and 20 if you can do a full month.

6. Focus on your breath. As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the ground and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. As you breathe out, follow your breath out back into the world. If it helps, count one breath in, two breath out, three breath in, four breath out … when you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, start over. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the few minutes you meditate. You won’t be very good at it at first, most likely, but you’ll get better with practice.

And that’s it. It’s a very simple practice, but you want to do it for 2 minutes, every day, after the same trigger each day. Do this for a month and you’ll have a daily meditation habit.

Expanding Your Practice

Sitting and paying attention to your breath is really mindfulness practice. It’s a way to train yourself to focus your attention. Once you’ve practiced a bit while sitting in a quiet space, you can expand your mindfulness practice:

  • When you feel stress, take a minute to pay attention to your breath, and return your mind to the present moment.
  • Try taking a walk, and instead of thinking about things you need to do later, pay attention to your breath, your body’s sensations, the things around you.
  • When you eat, just eat, and focus your attention on the food, on your feelings as you eat, on the sensations.
  • Try a mindful tea ritual, where you focus your attention on your movements as you prepare the tea, on the tea as you smell and taste it, on your breath as you go through the ritual.
  • Wash your dishes and sweep your floor mindfully.

This, of course, is just a start. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including with other people, while you work, and so on.

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