Raise Your Mood With An Easy Question

I sometimes get discouraged in this publishing business. Like any other business, it has its ups and downs, and sometimes my emotions go up and down with it. My wife, Klassy Evans, gave me a very simple suggestion awhile back that really helps. She said, "Whenever you feel discouraged, think of something you're grateful for."

I've done it many times now, and every time it is surprisingly easy to think of something I'm grateful for, and it makes me feel better every time.

I've read the studies on gratitude, but I've always thought of it as a project. It seems like work. I feel like I "should" sit down and write in a journal for a specified length of time, or try to write down a specified number of things I feel grateful for. That's how they do it in the experiments, but of course that's because it's an experiment. They have to test quantifiable, measurable tasks in an experiment. That doesn't mean I have to.

And as I found out, generating a little gratitude works well on the fly and in my head just as well as it does writing it down in a journal. It's not a chore at all — just a simple question to ask myself. It only takes a few moments (just long enough to think of something). And as soon as I think of something, I feel noticeably better.

I've found that if the first thing I think of doesn't raise my mood enough, I can easily ask myself what else I'm grateful for. It never wears out and I never run out.

You and I naturally have our attention on our goals and what we'd like to attain in the future, and the mind naturally compares our goals to what we have now. It compares what we have with what we want to have. That's motivating sometimes, but it can also make you feel demoralized or frustrated.

It is equally legitimate — and ought to get equal billing — to think about what you have (compared to others or compared to your past), or what you have gained, or what you are just plain glad about.

Try it the next time you feel discouraged or frustrated. Ask yourself, "What one thing am I grateful for?" And see what happens. It's a simple, all-purpose moodraiser you can keep in your back pocket and use the hell out of.

When you do, you'll be happier.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth
SlotralogyAntivirus For Your Mindand co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Subscribe to his blog here. You can email him here.

Connect With People to Reduce Anxiety

When you feel anxious fairly often, it tends to isolate you socially. Even surrounded by people, even with a lot of acquaintances, you can feel isolated. And the feeling of isolation tends to increase your feelings of anxiety or stress.

One reason is because feeling connected to others is soothing, and if you are not connecting, you are missing out on a very good way to feel calmer and more relaxed. Feeling close is very relaxing. Feeling loved is comforting. It is a powerful anxiety-reducer. In surveys asking people what kind of things improve their mood the best, the most common answers all involve interacting with people.

One very good step toward eliminating a feeling of isolation and increasing your feelings of connection is to increase your people-skills.

The two most practical books I've ever come across on the fine art of dealing with people are Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People and Les Giblin's How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People. They said a lot and they said it well. But I have a few more things to add.

Both of those books emphasize using the techniques to get what you want, and they could be used in a way that does not bring you closer to people. But they can also be used to increase your comfort and connection with people. And when that is your intention, the methods in those two books work very well indeed.

How do you go about increasing your skills? Simple: Get one of those books and read it. Pick two or three skills and work on them in all your interactions.

What do I mean "work on them?" I'll give you an example from Dale Carnegie's class. He was a master of practicality — he got people using the principles, not just reading about them. In his class, which is about public speaking, one of the books you get is How to Win Friends and Influence People. The class meets once a week, and every member of the class gets up and speaks for two minutes twice every week. One of those speeches is on a principle from the book. Carnegie's book ends each chapter with a short principle you can easily remember and apply.

So the teacher assigns a principle, and the class members are told to apply that principle at least once in the coming week and then tell the audience about it the next week.

Since you need to have something to say the following week, you try applying the principle where you can, maybe two or three times to make sure you get a good story to tell. Trying it out, you see how well it works, and you tend to keep using some of the principles from then on. It's a clever system.

What is a people-skill? What am I talking about? I mean basic things like using a person's name when you're talking to her, or noticing something you like about her and telling her you like it, or learning to draw her out in a conversation by asking good questions and showing interest. Those are three people-skills.

In How to Win Friends and Influence People you'll find a bunch of them. Read through a book like that and choose one or two or three you think would really help you if you practiced it, and practice them until they start to feel natural. Then find a couple more, etc.

I think most people conceive of people-skills as a way to persuade people, manipulating their emotions to get them to do what you want. But it doesn't usually reduce anxiety to use people-skills that way. It often increases anxiety.

Let us conceive that the purpose of practicing people-skills is to bring you and others closer together. To cultivate affection, others for you and you for others.

And whenever you get close to people, the process involves moving from relatively superficial conversations to more meaningful conversations as you get to know each other. The people-skills in Carnegie's and Giblin's books are perfect for helping you cross that gap. They are the skills that help you turn a stranger into a friend or lover, if you use those skills with honesty and integrity.

And as you get closer to people, your mood will rise and your anxiety and feelings of isolation will begin to disappear, and you are on your way to a better life.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth
SlotralogyAntivirus For Your Mindand co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Subscribe to his blog here. You can email him here.

Direct Your Mind: What Good Have I Been Ignoring?

You can direct your mind by asking yourself a good question. This is one of my favorites: What good have I been ignoring? The answers go on and on, improving my mood the whole time. I keep thinking of more and more good things I've been ignoring. The question almost demands it.

The emotional fallout from this question is abundant good feelings of happiness, gratitude, and pleasant surprise. When you ask a question like this, you’ll find answers everywhere. The question makes you look. You’ll realize someone has done something nice for you and you hadn’t really noticed. You’ll remember a great time you had a couple weeks ago and realize you hadn’t thought of it since then.

The question sets your mind to be on the lookout for good you’ve overlooked. You’ll notice good news items you might not normally notice, like how this lake got cleaned up or that disease now has a cure. The question helps overcome a natural tendency of the mind to get used to good things and only notice bad things. Read more about the mind's negative bias here.

What has been improving? What’s been getting better?

Ask this question, think of some answers, and ask it again.

This is especially a good question to ask if you’ve had your attention on what has been getting worse, or if you've had a feeling things are going badly, or you’re worried they will go badly.

This question won’t solve all your problems, of course, but it can reduce the amount of distress you’re feeling by widening the tunnel vision stress causes. You’re not trying to fool yourself or pretend everything is rosy. You’re looking to acknowledge the reality of what is good or has been getting better.

When those are acknowledged, you are less distressed and more able to make things even better. And it is good for your mood. A good mood is healthy and productive.

What good have you been ignoring?

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

Fasting's Salutary Effects

Below is a quote from the book, The First Survivors of Alzheimer's: How Patients Recovered Life and Hope in Their Own Words by Dale Bredesen:

"Fasting has numerous salutary effects, from enhancing ketosis to improving glycemic control and supporting insulin sensitivity to improving lipid status to improving blood pressure to enhancing autophagy and mitophagy, among others. Thus fasting is the base of the brain food pyramid (at least twelve hours between the end of supper and the start of breakfast or lunch, and at least three hours between supper and bedtime). The earlier in life you begin fasting, the longer and more thoroughly you will reap the benefits."

Four Of Our Kindle Books Are On Sale Now

Four of our books, in their Kindle versions, will be on sale starting Friday, April 5th until Thursday, April 11th, 2024:

Slotralogy: How to Change Your Habits of Thought: On sale for 99 cents. Using one of the simplest self-help methods ever created, this small book shows you how to change the one thing that will change everything: Your habitual way of thinking.

Self-Help Stuff That Works: On sale for $1.99. This is a collection of short, easy-to-read, to-the-point chapters on how to have a better attitude, how to do better at work, and how to deal with people more successfully. The chapters were originally articles published in the newsletter, At Your Best, where Adam Khan's column was voted the reader's favorite.

How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English): On sale for 99 cents. You know from experience that when you change your perspective on something that troubles you, it can sometimes quickly change how you feel, and improve the way you deal with challenges. This small book explains how to change your perspective deliberately and reliably, which will make you feel good more often and get more of your goals accomplished. This is a short, practical, interesting, easy-to-read book on reframing the events in your life so you're more capable of dealing with them and better able to keep a good attitude.

Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot: On sale for 99 cents. While it's true that sometimes you are naturally motivated, especially immediately after deciding on a goal, it is also true that you can cultivate motivation or let it do what it naturally does most of the time, which is fade away. Motivation is a tremendous power. A highly motivated person can accomplish seemingly impossible things. In this short book, you will learn how to stoke your inner fire 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.

Confession and Repentance

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 Principles For Personal Growth
SlotralogyAntivirus For Your Mindand co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Subscribe to his blog here. You can email him here.

Dancing is Medicine for Dementia

Dancing is complex. It engages different parts of the brain at the same time, says the cognitive scientist, Helena Blumen. And because of this, it beefs up the neural connections between diverse brain regions. Dancing is really challenging to the brain. And it’s also fun.

In a study by German researchers using MRI scanners, they compared elderly people who had done one of two exercise programs – one was the standard kind of thing with strength training and cycling. The other group danced.

Both groups improved their physical fitness, of course, but the dancers had measurably and significantly increased the size of the parts of their brains related to attention, high-level thinking, and working memory – the areas of the brain that usually shrink as we get older. 

In blood tests, the people who danced also had an elevated level of BDNF. This stimulates brain growth, especially in areas responsible for memories. BDNF causes the creation of new brain cells, and energizes the processes that maintain the good health of already-existing brain cells. BDNF also helps your brain preserve and maintain its hundreds of billions of dendrites and synapses (the connections between brain cells). In other words, increasing your blood level of BDNF is a big deal.

That makes dancing a big deal.

Learn more about reversing dementia here.

Learn more about a kind of dancing you can do on your own: WalkDancer.com.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal GrowthSlotralogyAntivirus For Your Mindand co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Subscribe to his blog here. You can email him here.