The Art of the Good Life: 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth and Success by Rolf Dobelli (Part 4)

Managing Expectations (The Less You Expect, the Happier You’ll Be). Our brains are an expectation machine. Expectations are built without us knowing as well, on a subconscious level. Do not have excessively high expectations of certain events. If your expectations regarding income rise faster than your income, you will be disappointed. Besides feeding yourself, you don’t have to do anything else. There are very few true necessities in life. Learn to erase supposed ‘necessities’ from your life. It is good to have desires, but do not be shackled by them. Not all your desires will be fulfilled. Your preferences are sometimes out of your control. Try not to have expectations of others, as they are beyond your control. To live a good life, draw distinctions between necessities, desires and expectations. You need to keep them separate. Managing your expectations is part of a good life.

Research confirms that expectations have a profound impact on happiness, and that unrealistic expectations are among the most effective killjoys. – Rolf Dobelli

Sturgeon’s Law (How to Tune your bullshit detector). Sturgeon’s Law states that 90% of everything is crap, regardless of what field you are in. To re-phrase, 90% of intellectual things are bullshit. Knowing this is good, as you can filter what you see, hear or read without feeling guilty. Concentrate on being selective in your absorption of content. In life, you will come across a lot of trash, but you need to be able to tune those out. It is easier said than done. Recognize the difference between ideas and good ideas. If you’re not sure whether something is bullshit, it’s bullshit.

In Praise of Modesty (The Less Self-Important You Are, the Better Your Life will be). Even great people will be forgotten in 4 generations or so. The problem with humans are that we are too attached to a sense of self-esteem. Our ego is too big. To live a good life, avoid being too full of yourself. Avoid standing upon your ego too much. Focus on your work and do not brag. The self-serving bias afflicts those who have a big ego in life. They may also over-estimate their abilities in life.

In a hundred or two hundred years at the most, hardly anybody will know who Bill Gates, Donald Trump or Angela Merkel were. And as for the two of us – you, dear reader, and me – a few decades after we’re gone nobody will spare us a second thought. – Rolf Dobelli

Inner Success (Why Your Input is more important than your output). Magazines sometimes produce a list of the most successful and powerful people in the world. Modern societies highlight material success a lot. Why are there no lists for people who are the most satisfied? Definitions of success depends on the product of their time. Don’t follow others blindly. Material success is 100% a matter of chance. True success is inner success. Once you have achieved tranquillity of the soul, you will be able to put up with slings and arrows. You can control your input, but not your output. Inner success is more stable than external success. Take stock of your accomplishments at the end of each day. People desire external gain as it gives them internal gain.

Success is a peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. – John Wooden

Afterword. The good life is no easy task. Instead of relying on intuition, one should be aware of the biases/heuristics that the mind is susceptible to. Intellectual tools are more important than money. If your friend is not leading a good life, you will know it instantly. This book has provided insights on Stoicism. Throughout this book, I have quoted Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett. This book combines the principles of modern psychology, Stoicism and the philosophy of value investing.

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The Art of the Good Life: 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth and Success by Rolf Dobelli (Part 3)

The Book of Worries (How to Switch off the Loudspeaker in Your Head). Everyone has to have the right setting on anxiety. That’s the way humans were wired, to be slightly anxious and wary of our surroundings. In the past, anxiety was useful as it ensured the survival of humans. But in modern day, such anxiety is unproductive. Anxiety will simply affect your sleep quality. Excessive anxiety will lead to stress. Fear is enough. There isn’t a switch to turn off the loudspeaker in your head. One trick is to write down your anxieties in a book at a fixed time everyday. Think about the worst possible consequences. Take out insurance. Focused work can definitely help against brooding as it very fulfilling in nature.

Determine what you can influence and what you can’t. Address the former. Don’t let the latter prey on your mind. – Rolf Dobelli

The Opinion Volcano (Why you’re Better Off Without Opinions). Difficult questions require thought and not simply muttering an opinion. The human brain is a volcano of opinions. We express opinions on topics which do not interest us. It would be better for you to shut up. We think we know answers on unanswerable questions. We give over-hasty answers to complex questions. The trick is to not keep on feeling that you need to give an opinion. Select the topics of your interest carefully. Writing is the ideal way to organize your thoughts. Question your own opinion to see if it can stand up to scrutiny.

Your Mental Fortress (The Wheel of Fortune). One needs to accept the existence of fate. Everything can be turned on their head all of a sudden. Everything you own, value and love is ephemeral. These things are fleeting and temporary. Thirdly, understand that the positive outweighed the negative in your life and that all sweet things are tinged with bitterness. However, no one can take your thoughts and your mental tools. These are the principles of stoicism. Happiness can only found in your mental strength and resolve, not in a Porsche collection.

Envy (Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall). Envy is one of the most toxic emotions. It has many destructive powers. Envy is one of the most important sources of unhappiness. Envy is an animal instinct. The trick is to stay clear of comparisons in order to enjoy a good life. Social media also contains information about others. Do not be envious of the neighbour’s car as car is unlikely to be able to bring someone happiness.

This is the interesting thing about envy: the more we compare ourselves with others, the greater the danger of jealousy. – Rolf Dobelli

The images uploaded have nothing to do with your friends’ normal lives. They’ve been meticulously curated, giving the fake impression that others in your social circle are doing better than they really are. – Rolf Dobelli

Prevention (Avoid Problems Before You Have to Solve Them). What is wisdom? It is a practical ability which we need to navigate life. Avoidance isn’t sexy. Successes achieved through prevention are invisible to others. The financial press loves a good turnaround manager. Hence, we underemphasize the role of some people in society. It is better to steer clear of danger because of your wisdom of foresight.

Mental Relief Work (Why You’re Not Responsible for the State of the World). Sometimes, we hear about the injustices in the world. However, there is nothing we can do about them personally. Most catastrophes are more complex than they seem to be. Don’t overestimate your ability. If you want to help reduce suffering on the planet, donate money. Voluntary work using your time is largely unproductive and you would be better off investing in your circle of competence. It would be smarter to pay and let the professionals do the work. Drastically restrict your news consumption – especially when it comes to catastrophes. Evil is all around us, and some things are hard to prevent. You’re not responsible for the state for the world.

The Focus Trap (How to Manage Your Most Important Resource). Focus is important, but you need to know where to direct it. The problem is that in modern society we are distracted by many notifications etc. Focus is an important resource. Don’t confuse what is new with what’s relevant. Avoid content or technology that’s free. Avoid absorbing information from multimedia as books are less distracting. Act from a position of strength. Focus can affect your happiness directly too.

If you deliberately focus your attention, you’ll get more out of life. Be critical, strict and careful when it comes to your intake of information – no less critical, strict and careful than you are with your food or medication. – Rolf Dobelli

Read Less, but Twice – On Principle (We’re Reading Wrong). Get through life via 50 books that you have read. I can faintly recall the content of books I have read. Little of the books you have read, you can remember. What’s the point of reading a book if you can’t remember the content? Why do humans retain so little of what we read? The problem is that we are not selective or thorough enough. Now, I am more selective with my reading and sometimes even read the same book twice. When young, read widely and do not restrict yourself. This is the stage where you are improving your powers of judgment. After you are 30, be very selective about what you read.

The effect of reading twice isn’t twice the effect of reading once. It’s much greater – judging by my own experience, I’d put it at a factor of ten. – Rolf Dobelli

The Dogma Trap (Why Ideologues Oversimplify Things). Humans think we know things very well until we are forced to explain them. This is the knowledge illusion. Special issues require a lot of thought. We need to account for the effects of the effects of doing something. Ideologies are very dangerous. Notice when you are falling for an ideology. An ideology is one which can seemingly explain everything. Remember to give dogmas a wide berth.

Mental Subtraction (How to Realize that You’re Happy). How generally happy are you with your life? Gratitude is an important feeling which you need to be appreciative of. Gratitude might not work because of habituation and we get used to things. Instead of focusing on the positives, mental subtraction works too. It can help to boost happiness. Think about how much you’d miss the things you do have if you didn’t have them any longer.

Our happiness is sometimes not very salient. We need to do what we can to make it more so. Imagine playing a piano and not being able to hear what it sounds like. Many activities in life are like playing a piano that you do not hear. – Rolf Dobelli

The Point of Maximum Deliberation (Thinking Is to Acting Like a Torch is to a Floodlight). The best ideas come to you while you write them down. Action speaks louder than words. Doing beats talking anytime. The world is opaque to us. To go beyond what we know, we have to forge ahead and act. This is the point of maximum deliberation. This is when all the facts are laid on the table and you have digested them. Meditation won’t help you anymore, if there are no more new acts. Stranded on an island, who would you rather be by your side? Your partner? A Consultant? A boatbuilder? You won’t achieve the good life simply by thinking about things you ought to do. Self-inquiry will get you bogged down in moodiness, vague thoughts etc.

An entrepreneur won’t know whether a product will be successful until she produces it and launches it onto the market – no matter how much consumer research she’s done. – Rolf Dobelli

If you’re simply thinking something over, you’ll never bump up against reality, which means you can never fail. Act, however, and suddenly failure is back on the cards – but you’ll gain new experiences. – Rolf Dobelli

Other People’s Shoes (Role Reversal). Sometimes, it helps to take the place of someone else. The issue might be resolved more quickly. You got to see things from someone’s else perspective. Role reversal is a quick way to build mutual understanding. Reading novels can help you to build empathy fast.

Being immersed in a good novel, accompanying the protagonist throughout both highs and lows, is an efficient workaround that sits somewhere between thinking and doing. – Rolf Dobelli

The Illusion of Changing the World (Part 1 – Don’t Fall for the “Great Men” Theory). Can you really change the world? Modern society are very optimistic for the individual. We see ourselves as engineers of the world. However, the idea that any individual can change the world is a grand illusion. The first problem is the focusing illusion. We over-estimate the importance of our projects. The next bias is the intentional stance such as ‘without Einstein, there would be no relativity theory’. However, without such great people, things would have happened, just with someone else at the helm. Individual humans do not shape history, but there are a myriad of factors driving it. Do not cling on to the illusion, that you can be a great man yourself.

The Illusion of Changing the World (part 2 – Why you shouldn’t put anyone on a pedestal – least of all yourself). Other inventors, if Edison wasn’t around, would have invented the light bulb. Hence, the light bulb would still have been invented. Technology will find its inventors, not vice versa. Even without Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, things would not have changed much. Even outstanding CEOs can’t control market forces. A lot of them are forgotten people already. Hence, we need to be modest about our own achievements.

No matter how extraordinary your accomplishments might be, the truth is that they would have happened you. Your personal impact on the world is minute. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are. – Rolf Dobelli

The only place where you can really make a difference is in your own life. Focus on your own surroundings. You’ll soon see that getting to grips with that is ambitious enough. Why take it upon yourself to change the world? Spare yourself the disappointment. – Rolf Dobelli

The ‘Just World’ Fallacy (Why Our Lives Aren’t Like Classic Crime). We believe in justice and equality and cannot bear injustice. We believe good deeds will be rewarded and bad deeds will be punished. We need to accept the unfairness of the world. In life, we have to put up with a bit of unfairness. Humans like to think everything will turn out fine. The world is fundamentally amoral. Part of the good life is to accept that not everything is fine.

The things that happen to you across the course of your life, especially the more serious blows of fate, have little to do with whether you’re a good or a bad person. So accept unhappiness and misfortune with stoicism and calm. – Rolf Dobelli

Cargo Cults (Don’t Build Planes out of Straw). Many people try to emulate their idol’s behavior or mannerisms, but they can’t achieve the same success. Auditors like to tick boxes, but are so good at identifying risks. Avoid companies that reward ceremony over achievement. Learn to understand what truly made people successful first.

Star far away from any type of cargo cult. And be on your guard: the substanceless imitation of form is more common than we think. – Rolf Dobelli

If You Run Your Own Race, You Can’t Lose (Why General Knowledge is Only Useful as a Hobby). You can recite facts about your own area of expertise. However, what do you know outside your expertise? The more you fill your brain with specialized knowledge, the less you will have for general knowledge. We see ourselves as versatile specialists. Our general knowledge gets affected by this. Our ancestors were better at more things, because they didn’t specialize. Now, society only rewards the specialists. If you are not the best in your field, you will have to specialize further. It is okay to have some general knowledge, but you won’t make a career out of it and do not spend excessive amount of time on it.

The Arms Race (Why You Should Avoid the Field of Battle). Students are trapped in a paper race, because others have degrees too. However, taking into account the education cost, they are barely better off than those without degrees. If you are in an arms race, get out if you can. Find a niche where there is no competition. Find a niche where you can operate smoothly and confidently. Humans are pressured to do many things in modern society. If you want a career as a musician, avoid the piano and the violin as there is too much competition in the area. Steer clear of arms race.

Making Friends with Weirdos (Get to know Outsiders but Don’t be one Yourself). People who do not belong in groups can be very successful too, like Einstein. Many of these people can be termed as outsiders. They enjoy an advantage as they don’t have protocols to slow them down. They also look more deeply and learn to question the status quo more. There is an appeal to being one. However, do not be one. Only the brightest outsiders can succeed. Your best chance is not to leave the establishment. Make friends with outsiders and be interested in their work. Practice reciprocity and tolerance. Surround yourself with smart people and outsiders as they might give you a fresh perspective on things and life.

The Secretary Problem (Why Our Sample Sizes are too Small). If you have 100 people to interview for the secretary position, how would you go about it? Take the first good candidate? Or interview many and then assess the feel of the quality of the pool? Statistically, one should interview the first 37 candidates and reject them all; however, you should monitor their quality. Then you should continue interviewing until you find someone better than the previous 37 and then hire her. Although it may not be directly applicable to real life, it can give you guidelines about how long we should be spending time testing things before making a final decision. Try out different options in life first. Understand what are the different options out there. We tend to make decisions too soon and too hasty. Sometimes, our sample size are too small. The trick is to take as many samples as you while you are still young. Be receptive and learn.

Read widely, because novels and short stories are excellent simulations of life. Only as you age should you adapt your modus operandi and become highly selective. By then you’ll know what you like and what you don’t. – Rolf Dobelli

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The Art of the Good Life: 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth and Success by Rolf Dobelli (Part 2)

The Circle of Competence (Why It’s Important to Know Your Limits). In the circle are the skills you have mastered. Know your circle of competence and stick within it. Focus on your circle of competence in your career. You should not do things outside the circle of your competence. One often feels tempted to broaden your area of competence, but you shouldn’t do it. To master something, a lot of time will be required. It also involves a certain level of obsession. Be realistic and know that you suck at certain things in life. One outstanding skill can trump many mediocre ones.

The Secret of Persistence (Why Bores Are More Successful than Adventurers). Classy investors buy a handful of companies and they keep them. To avoid transaction costs, they buy and sell as infrequently as possible. They take advantage of a long term horizon. Longevity has its benefits as there are many old books which are still bestsellers even today. Our brains do not have instinct for duration. Long term successes are important. One can be more productive in a peaceful environment. Stick to your circle of competence for as long as possible once you have a rewarding hobby. Perseverance and tenacity are highly valuable virtues.

The Tyranny of a Calling (Do What You Can, Not What You Wish You Could). How can find your calling? People believe there is a bud waiting to be formed inside of you. However, the problem will callings are that they are illusions. A calling that makes you happy is false. Don’t go blindly chasing your ambitious goals and feel depressed if you don’t achieve them. We often only see cases of selection bias, where we see people with a calling being successful. Build on the skills you have. The skills you have mastered are the things you enjoy doing most of the time. Other people have got to value your talents.

You can pursue a craft with love, of course, and even with a touch of obsession, but your focus should always be on the activity, the work, the input – not on the success, the result, the output. – Rolf Dobelli

The Prison of a Good Reputation (How to Shift from External to Internal Validation). Bob Dylan didn’t acknowledge his Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. Grigori Perelman declined the Fields Medal for Mathematics. He is indifferent to what the world thinks of him. As you grow older, you feel that public perception has little to do with the quality of your work. This is the difference between someone with an inner vs outer scorecard. In the past, people were more concerned about their outer scorecard and what others thought of them. Humans spend 90% of the time talking about other people. However, in modern day, what others think of it is far less important. People are approval seeking machines on social media. People are going to comment on whatever please them. Don’t simply crave recognition but rather focus on achieving something.

Would you rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover? Or would you rather be the world’s worst lover but have everyone think you’re the world’s greatest lover? – Warren Buffett

People will gossip and tittle-tattle behind your back. They’ll heap you with praise and drag you into shitstorms. You can’t control it. – Rolf Dobelli

The ‘End of History’ Illusion (You Can Change Yourself – but Not Other People). How much have you changed over the last 10 years? In terms of personality, character, temperament, values etc. When asked, most people feel that they won’t change a lot in the next 10 to 20 years. However, it isn’t true that personalities stop developing over time. The good news is that adults can exercise some influence over changes in your personality. Use your idols and be careful of the people you want to admire. The bad news is that you can’t change other people, not even your partner. Motivation has to come from within. One of the key rules of a good life is to ‘Avoid situations in which you have to change other people.’ Do not hire someone where you have to change their character. Skills can be trained, but attitudes can’t be changed easily.

Oh, it’s just so useful dealing with people you can trust and getting all the others the hell out of your life… But wise people want to avoid other people who are just total rat poison, and there are a lot of them. – Charlie Munger

The Smaller Meaning of Life (Which Goals You Can Achieve – and Which You Can’t). Our lives consist of many facets. It is very difficult to answer the question of ‘Who you are’. You should ask about what your purpose in life is. Stop trying to look for the larger meaning of life. However, you should ask yourself about the smaller meaning of life, your goals, ambitions, mission etc. Life goals are very important and it is important to set a few. Goals are useful because they put you in the mood for accomplishing them. Goals make decision-making easier. Life consists of making forks in the road. Goals need to be realistic though.

There is no discernable overarching purpose – not for humanity, life or the universe. The world is fundamentally meaningless. So stop looking for the “larger meaning of life”. You’re only wasting your time. – Rolf Dobelli

Your Two Selves (Why Your Life Isn’t a Photo Album). You have two selfs, the experiencing self and the remembering self. A human can hardly recall moments in the past. We can’t retain our experiences well. The remembering self has better retention and perhaps you can remember the awesome praline that you ate 24 hours ago. The experiencing self is only concerned with a 3 second interval. Our two selves often give contrasting replies. The remembering self tends to recall happy memories as compared to the experiencing self. Humans suffer from duration neglect. The problem of this that our remembering selves tend to value short-term fun more than long term ones. We need to rely on both selves and cannot simply ignore either one.

Humans remember most clearly the peak of an episode, ie., the moment of greatest intensity, and the end. Hardly anything else filters through into our memories. – Rolf Dobelli

Not even duration matters. Whether you’re on holiday for one week or three, your memory of it will be roughly the same. Likewise, whether you’re in prison for a month or a year, it makes no difference to your memory – the specific amount of time spent behind bars will be forgotten. – Rolf Dobelli

The Memory Bank. How much are you willing to pay for an ideal experience? Imagine what would be your most wonderful experience and jot down a price you would pay for it. How much would you pay for it if you weren’t able to remember it afterwards? To many, experiences only count if you can remember them. This is known as a memory bank. But this is weird, because doesn’t what you experience in the moment count? Animals have moments, but few or no memories. This is when we need to value our experiencing self more. Trying to recall happy moments are good, but shouldn’t you just try to enjoy the present as well? The human memory ain’t great and you will struggle to recall things. Even if we can recall, we can only recall the high point and the ending.

Memories are one-dimensional, shallow, abstract, frequently mistaken, partially fabricated and ultimately unproductive. In short, we overvalue memory and undervalue the experienced moment. – Rolf Dobelli

A life of wondrous yet forgotten moments is still a wondrous life, so stop thinking of experiences as deposits for your memory bank. One day you’ll be on your deathbed, and your account will be permanently closed. – Rolf Dobelli

Life Stories are Lies (Why We Go Through the World with a False Self-Image). We act smart and we need to know a lot via our knowledge of past events. Our brain sometimes does not remember information accurately. It remembers processed data and captures stories more vividly. Stories are things that are made up by humans. By turning it into a story, humans can remember things better. The 3Cs are used, compact, consistent, casual. Adults change as they age, more than they think they will. We tend to think that we are smarter than we actually are. This is known as self-serving bias. The trick to overcome this is to ask your friends what they think of you. Every human has their shortcomings and dark sides and it is important to see things realistically.

The ‘Good Death’ Fallacy (Why Your Final Moments Shouldn’t Worry You). When you have a terminal illness, you won’t have the ability to engage in philosophical reflection. Even if you can remember, chances are it won’t be accurate. Humans suffer from duration neglect. We have trouble evaluating how attractive other people’s lives are. Of course when you are old, you would not have such a good time as when you were younger. The key is just to live well in the present.

More crucial still is that the way you feel in your final moments is totally irrelevant in the context of your whole life. Contemplating your hour of death is unproductive, and will only distract you from the good life. – Rolf Dobelli

Better a life well lived and a few painful days on your deathbed than a shoddy life and a good death. – Rolf Dobelli

The Spiral of Self-Pity (Why it makes no sense to wallow in the past). Self-pity is largely useless and one can enter an emotional whirlpool if sucked into it. It is an unhealthy thought pattern that should be stopped. One has to accept their wrongs and move on. Blaming others has their own expiry date too. Childhood events have little impact on adult personality. You could blame your genes, but that won’t change anything. Life isn’t perfect to begin with.

If you can do something to mitigate the current problems in your life, then do it. If you can’t, then put up with the situation. Complaining is a waste of time, and self-pity is doubly counterproductive. – Rolf Dobelli

Whenever you think that some situation or some person is ruining your life, it is actually you who are ruining your life… Feeling like a victim is a perfectly disastrous way to go through life. – Rolf Dobelli

Hedonism and Eudemonia (How Meaning Can Compensate for Enjoyment – and the Other Way Around). Meaningful activities need not be enjoyable. What should you be focusing your time on? Enjoyable or meaningful activities? Instant gratification can seem animalistic. Striving for the higher pleasures for deemed as Eudaimonia. Every experienced moment has 2 components: pleasurable and meaningful. Good films also need to have a meaningful component. Some graduates are willing to take a pay cut to engage in meaningful projects. One needs to strike a balance between enjoyment and meaning.

The Circle of Dignity – Part 1 (But If Not). ‘But if not’ means ‘over my dead body’. This means issues that are not for negotiation. This is like your individual pledge. It protects you from 3 forms of attack: a) better arguments; b) mortal danger; c) deals with the Devil. You need to know where your boundaries lie. One should have a clearly demarcated circle of dignity. This is the solid ground you can fall upon. It crystallizes with time, around middle age. You need to know which principles you want to defend, and which you are prepared to give up. These are your core principles and beliefs which you need to defend.

The Circle of Dignity – Part 2 (If You Break on the Outside). You have to tell others what you believe in. You have to cherish your own will and keep persevering. People might attack our preferences, principles etc. They might be subtle and we might not even notice them. Each arrow can hurt your self-esteem and weaken your immune system. Verbal attacks can be very painful as well. This is one of the keys to a good life.

The Circle of Dignity – Part 3 (The Devil’s Bargain). What does it mean to sell your soul? Offer each money and the owner weakens. What are the things so sacred to you that you will not sell them at any price? What about your health and your opinions? We have to defend our principles against a) better arguments; b) mortal danger; c) deal with the devil. The trick is to defend your circle of dignity sharply. Everything in your circle is non-negotiable.

9781473667495

The Art of the Good Life: 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth and Success by Rolf Dobelli (Part 1)

Foreword. Since centuries ago, people have been asking themselves on what it means to live a good life? Is it better to seek happiness or to avoid unhappiness? The world is complicated and there is no simple solution. We need mental tools and models to rely on. This book is based on research as well as knowledge from ancient times. The tips from the book should help you navigate the challenges in life.

Mental Accounting (How to Turn a Loss into a Win). A speed camera on the expressway captured my car speed and I was going too fast. I used to be angry with such instances. However, now I smile when I receive summons. I pay the fines using money which I have set aside for good causes every year. This is known as mental accounting. You are tricking yourself into giving yourself a peace of mind. The fact has happened, but you can choose how to interpret the event. Living a good life has a lot to do with interpreting facts in a constructive way. To take the sting out of payment, you can pay first and consume later. When something has become a little more expensive/cheaper, I don’t think about it. I rather save my energy than money. You will help to retain your inner poise. Mental accounting will teach you to value your time.

The Fine Art of Correction (Why We Overestimate Set-Up). During a flight, the pilot constantly makes readjustments to the flight path. When things don’t go according to plan, we have to navigate. We can’t take our hands off the steering wheel. Our live is exposed to turbulence. Correction is more important than the set-up. The human body works in this way to fight viruses and bacteria too. In every relationship, fine-tuning is crucial too. We don’t like to correct because we feel we were right at the start. The US Constitution has been amended dozens of times already. There is no such thing as ideal training.

As an amateur pilot I’ve learned that it’s not so much the beginning that matters but the art of correction following take-off. – Rolf Dobelli

The Pledge (Inflexibility as a Stratagem). Clayton Christensen, an author, lives his life according to pledges. A pledge means an absolute commitment. This indicates inflexible behavior. However, when it comes to important issues, flexibility is not an advantage but a trap. This is because new decisions require willpower and lead to decision fatigue. Pledging saves your mental energy. Pledging means you are consistent on many topics. Pledges must be very firm and you must not waver.

Chain yourself to your pledges. Uncompromisingly. It’s easier to stick to your pledges 100% of the time rather than 99%. – Rolf Dobelli

Black Box Thinking (Reality Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings; or, Why Every False Step Improves Your Life). The black box in the plane was an indestructible box that can retrieve conversations in the cockpit so that it is easier to determine the cause of a crash. Black box thinking means radical acceptance of the truth and analyzing your actions. Your illness will still be there whether you want to focus on it or not. Self-deception is not compatible with a good life. The fact is that you are poor at something could be indeed true. Radical acceptance of defeats is part of life. Build your own black box. When making a big decision, think of what is going through your mind. Black box thinking can also work on a personal level. Tackle the problem at the source.

The world isn’t remotely interested in what you think of it or how you feel. Banish all such obscurantist tactics from your brain. – Rolf Dobelli

Accepting reality is easy when you like what you see, but you’ve got to accept it even when you don’t – especially when you don’t. – Rolf Dobelli

To put it another way, if you can’t spot where you put a foot wrong, you’re going to fall flat on your face again. Persistence in your analysis will pay off. – Rolf Dobelli

Counterproductivity (Why Timesavers are Often Timewasters). A car improved efficiency by many fold over horse carriages. Although it seemingly saves time, you have to factor in the time needed for maintenance, patrol, time caught in traffic jams. After factoring all these, the car has an average speed of 3.7mph. Technologies that seem good at the start needs to analyzed using a full cost analysis. For instance, powerpoint is great, but isn’t it a waste of time when you can get the message across using something simpler. Therefore, it is important to be on your guard against counterproductivity. Keep only the bare essentials. Technology can actually be a burden. The author is against modern technology, like smart devices.

A basic rule of the good life is as follows: if it doesn’t genuinely contribute something, you can do without it. – Rolf Dobelli

The Negative Art of the Good Life (Do nothing Wrong and the Right Thing Will Happen). Pilots simply want to avoid crashes. In investment, there is upside and downside. As long as you do the checks on the plane, you should be safe and minimize the downside. Like in tennis, you are likely to win if you minimize on your errors and play conservatively. What makes people happy? The literature does not contain much information. However, we can pinpoint what makes people unhappy: alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic stress, noise, long commute etc. Thus, the trick in life is to eliminate the downside as much as possible.

The Ovarian Lottery (Why You Didn’t Earn your Successes). Happiness is something you have. How much of success can be attributable to your own actions? Sometimes, it is because you were simply born in a good place. Where we are born definitely influences our success in a big way. The same also matters for the family you were brought up in. Timing is important. We are also a blend of our parent’s genes. For quite a number of things, you owe it to your genes. You haven’t really earned your achievements. You definitely need on others to be successful. Grateful people are demonstrably happier people.

Six percent of all the people who have been born over the last 300,000 years – since Homo Sapiens populated the world – are alive in the present day. They could just as easily have been born into another era; indeed, the probability of that is 94%. – Rolf Dobelli

The Introspection Illusion (Take Feelings Seriously – Just Not Your Own). Describe the objects in front of you. Describe what you feel about them right now. Our feelings are more nebulous. However, we are unable to express them clearly. You can’t achieve the good life through introspection. You are unlikely to achieve a certain purpose just by analyzing. Examine what are the recurring themes of your past and not analyze your feelings. Learn to read the emotions of others. Learn to treat your emotions less seriously. We need to cultivate a new relationship with our inner voices. Feelings will change over time and one should never be ‘owned’ by them. Repressing your emotions will only lead to them coming harder back at you. The key message is not to trust your emotions.

Take other people’s feelings very seriously, but not your own. Let them flit through you – they’ll come and go anyway, just as they please. – Rolf Dobelli

The Authenticity Trap (Why You need a Secretary of State). We all like to talk to authentic people However, do we want people to be too honest and forthcoming? Authenticity online are all staged. We don’t really know what authentic behavior is. There is simply no need to blurt out for innermost feelings. You can play your second self and keep promises and not blurt out personal feelings too often.

The Five-Second No (Small Favors, Big Pitfalls). How often do you say yes to favors without thinking? Do you reject others? When you keep helping others, you have less time for yourself. Co-operation was common in the animal kingdom because of survival. In game theory, the tit for tat works well. In the animal kingdom, animals believe in reciprocal altruism. Only apes have the ability to do it because they have a good memory. It keeps the economy going. However reciprocity has its dangers. Nowadays I say no to a lot of things which aren’t important to me. This is one of the key points of a good life.

The Focusing Illusion (Why You Wouldn’t be Happier in the Caribbean). When you are experiencing winter, you feel that you will be happier in the tropics on a beach somewhere. The more you focus, the greater the influence of the event. Because we are focusing on the climate only, we think Miami is superior. However, it is important to think about other factors. You assign the weather as overly important. Therefore, it is important not to overemphasize any single factor. The problem with humans is that it is not easy to view things from an ultra-wide lens. The grass usually looks good on the other side. The focusing illusion is bad and you need to be aware when it happens.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it. – Daniel Kahneman

The Things You Buy Leave no Real Trace (Why You Should Buy less and Experience More). How much pleasure do you get from your car? It seems that people do. We tend to overemphasize the impact an object can give us. When you think of the car, you seem happy. However, when you think about using and maintaining it, probably you won’t feel as happy. Expensive objects tend to have higher upkeep and you get used to them after a while. When you experience something, you are fully present. Try to experience more and it is also usually cheaper. We overestimate the impact of purchases on our wellbeing.

While you’re thinking about X, you tend to grossly over-estimate X’s impact on your life. – Rolf Dobelli

Fuck-You Money (Saving Up Freedom). There is a diminishing marginal utility to things you consume, like water even if you are very thirsty. This holds true for money. Think about how much money you need to earn before you feel that additional income will not have any impact on your wellbeing. A decent income is needed for survival, but beyond that, it doesn’t bring you a lot of additional happiness. Rich people have more things to worry about. Life satisfaction for Americans in the 1946 and 1970s were largely the same, according to Easterlin. Wealth is relative, not absolute. Hence, this is the problem that humans face. Fuck-you money are the savings that will allow you to quit your job without you ending up in financial trouble. Don’t think too much about money and worry about slight fluctuations in your portfolio. Don’t compare yourself with the rich or you will feel unhappy. Live modestly even if you are rich as wealth makes people jealous. Genuine success is not financial in nature.

This revelation has been termed the Easterlin paradox: once basic needs have been met, incremental financial gain contributes nothing to happiness. – Rolf Dobelli

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Why We Hate Cheap Things by The School of Life

Why We Hate Cheap Things. In the past, pineapples were expensive and people who bought them kept them as status symbols until they rotted and fell apart. It had almost a ritual quality. Savoring one was like a luxury. The top of the South Towers of St Paul had this divine fruit being perched on it. By the end of the 19th century, technology enabled large plantations to be built. Now, it is no longer deemed as a rare fruit. When the price falls, we become less passionate. In the past, when flying was dangerous and expensive, it seemed thrilling. Now, taking a flight on a commercial aircraft seems a little boring. We definitely do not appreciate the skies as much as Leonardo da Vinci would. The same can be said about having a hot bath. In the past, heating the water was considered difficult. It was largely reserved for war heroes or for the very rich. Now, it is a very common experience and some might even view it as a waste of time. We view cheap prices with a lack of value. Due to the Industrial Revolution, we are now able to make things cheaply. In the past, because of hand labour, more expensive things were associated with higher quality. There was a price to pay for craftsmanship. People hoped that with industrialization, prices would fall. In 1911, the commercial car was born. However, industrialization might have robbed certain experiences of loveliness, interest and worth. Now, it might seem bizarre if we are interested over cheap things. We now favor the things that are expensive. A child’s mind is more curious and wonder-like in nature. Children do not understand money. They can be obsessed with things that do not cost a lot. To adults, costs = value. Over time, when children understand money, they believe that saving for a big purchase is good. The artist Paul Cezanne was obsessed with painting apples and noticing their texture. Every apple exuded their own colour and aura. He was excited over apples, even though he was extremely rich. The fact of life is that we can get great things for little money. We have given up on too many of our native loves. In the modern society, we are drawn into advertising. The issue is that cheap but useable objects do not have sufficient advertising.

We need advertising pursued with the same sense of drama and intensity and ambition but directed towards biros, puddles and olives. – The School of Life

There are two ways to get richer: one is to make more money; the second is to discover that more of the things we could love are already to hand. – The School of Life

Contemplation of the history of the pineapple suggests a curious overlap between love and economics: when we have to pay a lot for something nice, we appreciate it to the full. – The School of Life

A reduction in our esteem for an experience follows a reduction in the cost of obtaining it. – The School of Life

This means that we often end up feeling that we can’t afford good things and that our lives are therefore sad and incomplete. The money hierarchy constantly makes us feel impoverished, while the truth is that there are more good things within our grasp than we believe. – The School of Life

Why We Look Down on People Who Don’t Earn Very Much. If you don’t earn a lot, what you say is unlikely to command much respect. There seems to be a link between talent, effort, skill and income. This is capitalism for you. A person’s wages are determined by the scale of their social contribution. Economics would say that wages solely depend on demand vs supply. Christianity insisted that a person’s worth has no relation to their financial standing. Whether you go to heaven depends on merits. Karl Marx thought that workers should be paid based on their contributions to society. This meant that the wages of the hitmen, casino owners would do down while that of the nurse and the farmer would go up. In the past, lacemaking was a job which was poorly paid. Many painters noticed this and painted pictures of lace-makers at their craft. The artists hoped that through their paintings, more would appreciate the lacemaking craft. Art gives us a sense of a person’s true merit and a willingness to disregard wages. Art can be the answer to bridge the gap between money and human value.

We recognize the phenomenon in our society well enough: the more someone earns, the more they are likely to be admired by strangers, and perceived as interesting and exciting. – The School of Life

On Being an Unemployed Arts Graduate. Arts graduates complain about finding employment. Some of them are also underpaid. Some people can’t understand why artists should be paid to study history. People lack a real understanding of what the humanities are about and how it can benefit humanity. The universities also can’t explain why students should pursue humanities. Humanities are the closest we have to replace religion. They are bodies of work that teach us how to lead our lives. We need to reinvent universities. There are practical aspects of reading 19th century literature. Humans crave nourishment as well. There needs to be a new definition of culture.

Good Materialism. Materialism is generally seen as bad. Is there such a thing as good materialism? We have failed to distinguish good from bad materialism. Even religious people have made material items, like shrines, artworks etc. They did so because they believed it developed their souls. Some material possessions can be seen as transubstantiation, where they have both a practical and physical form. Material objects can have a spiritual role in our lives. They can give us a chance to understand ourselves better. We should only purchase things which can lead to the better encouragement of ourselves.

We are still enmeshed in the desire to possess – but we are encouraged to feel rather bad about it. – The School of Life

Why We Are So Bad at Shopping. We need to learn how to shop. Shopping for others is tricky, but we don’t seem to think so for ourselves. Capitalism is supposed to provide us with unlimited options. However, humans are influenced by group instincts. There are very standard consumer patterns in our economy. Our shopping choices are really not that personal. Humans like to follow trends etc. They like to buy what it is fashion in the modern age. We do not want to appear weird in front of our friends. We do not analyze pleasurable activities much. Product reviews don’t help us too much as well.

Part of the problem is that we lack the ability to know, looking back over experiences, what truly brought us pleasure. Our brains aren’t so keen on taking apart their satisfactions – and therefore plotting how to recreate them. – The School of Life

It isn’t that we are too focused on shopping, we are not thinking deeply enough about what we’re doing. We haven’t yet learnt to be doggedly precise enough about pinning down our own fun and making sure we get it. – The School of Life

Using Sex to Sell. Using sex to sell seems cheap and low-class. Ficino believed that humans will move from sex to love. The next stage would be to long and have the capacity to understand. To get someone to understand something, it would to get the person interested in sex. Ficino suggested to Lorenzo to paint pictures of beautiful and sexy people. There is nothing wrong to use it and it has been used in the Renaissance period. However, it is useful to sell something noble. Once our senses are ignited, it is easier to learn. However, there is a need to sell things like books related to wisdom and philosophy.

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The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel (Part 3)

Food and Telomeres: Eating for Optimal Cell Health. You can have a whole-foods diet that has fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts etc. Consider what you eat before you consume it. Often, we struggle over what sort of food is good for us. It is definitely better to eat fresh as compared to processed foods. The first cellular enemy is inflammation. Glucose and sugary foods are bad because they hit your bloodstream fast and hard. Alcohol also is a carbohydrate and is bad for health. Chronic alcohol use is associated with shorter telomeres. However, light drinking is fine. Foods that are good are like berries, grapes, apples etc. Other inflammatory foods include fish oils, nuts, flax oils and leafy vegetables. These foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to keep cell structure fluid and stable. They also help to lower cardiovascular risk. Are fish oil supplements or capsules good? The results are mixed. How well you absorb the nutrients, how well your cells use it are all important factors. Instead of eating omega-3, one can also eat algae. There should be a good balance between the consumption of omega 3 and 6. Vitamin B12 can help to reduce homocysteine. The second enemy is oxidative stress. This is when there are too many free radicals, and they might destroy your DNA. Vitamin C helps protect and gobble up free radicals. One can get vitamins and minerals from a daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Good food items include citrus, berries, apples, plums, carrots etc. Babies who are breast-fed can have longer telomeres. Americans like to drink a lot of soda and they have to watch it. Your pancreas has to work harder to produce more insulin. Liver turns sugar into fat and you want to achieve that sugar high again. People tend to die younger if they consume too much sugar. Avoid sweetened drinks from Starbucks or desserts in general. Instead, focus on foods that are higher in fibre like wholemeal bread, pasta, brown rice, barley, vegetables etc. Higher levels of vitamin D are good too, and is linked to telomere health. The best sources of vitamin D are salmon, tuna, milk, cereal, eggs. You can also consider vitamin D supplements. Fish in general is good for health. The Mediterranean diet is generally known to be more healthy. The Korean diet in good as well. Red meat is a probable cause of cancer, and processed red meat is even worse. It is never too late to start and improve your health. Is coffee good for health? There is not much research in this area but in general, it seems okay to consume. Recent research on telomere has shown that coffee is indeed beneficial. Remember the 3 enemies: inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress. Healthy snacks which are high in protein are desirable. Make your own homemade trail mix or chia pudding, which can be very healthy indeed. Seaweed is also telomere friendly. If you have a family history of diabetes, focus on your weight gain. Visualize how you want to be like when you grow old, for example: fit and healthy.

In general, antioxidants from food are typically better absorbed by the body and may have more powerful effects than supplements. – Elizabeth Blackburn

Master Tips for Renewal: Science-Based Suggestions for Making Changes that Last. Learning about telomeres is a potent motivator. For a change to be long lasting, it would be good to know why you’re making the change. Study your motivation to make the change. Find one small behaviour that you want to change now. Understand why is this change meaningful to you. Be confident that you can make the change. Get into the self-efficacy positive loop. There are tips for creating new habits. One is to make small incremental changes. Tack a small change onto an activity that’s already a routine part of your day. Schedule the change early in the morning if possible. Don’t decide- just do, as making decisions is exhausting. Celebrate if you managed to practise your new habit. Increase your brain’s ability to execute your plans. Don’t try the change when you are feeling depleted, like when feeling sleepy etc. Shape your surroundings to reduce the number of times you’re tempted by hiding them till there are out of sight. Ask your family and friends to support your new goal. We can all strive to have more days of renewal. The path to permanent change takes time.

Part 4 – Outside In: The Social World Shapes Your Telomeres

Chapter 11: The Places and Faces that Support Our Telomeres. The environment does affect our telomeres. A safe environment certainly helps. Where we live does matter. It would be helpful if you were close to your neighbors as well. Those who live in fear of crime have greater cellular aging. Those who live in an unsafe neighbourhood tend to have shorter telomeres. This is also because they are in a heightened state and may get less sleep at night. Parks and the availability of parks for exercise is also important. The fact that there is a lot of litter in San Francisco is also bad. The people in the city had shorter telomeres in general. Exposure to nature can help in telomere growth. Exposure to green spaces helps to lower stress indeed. Can money buy longer telomeres? Poverty was associated with shorter telomeres as you can’t meet your basic needs. The more educated you are, the longer your telomeres. Carbon monoxide is a bad chemical which should be avoided. Pesticides are bad as well as they increase oxidative stress. Cadmium is detrimental to health and can be found in cigarette smoke and dust, dirt etc. Lead is usually bad as well. Lead in water is extremely bad for health. Avoid polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons too. Other chemicals to avoid are dioxins, furans, arsenic and benzene. Such chemicals are now also being associated with cancer. Avoid microwaving plastics. Human beings crave for social connection. Rats suffer when they are alone. Good friends are like your nightwatchmen and will watch over you. Having mixed relationships result in shorter telomeres. Happily married people have a lower risk of early mortality. Married people generally have longer telomeres. Physical intimacy also leads to longer telomeres. Racial discrimination is bad for length of telomeres. Discrimination is bad as it is a form of social stress. Policemen can get assaulted etc and all these are very detrimental. Blacks are discriminated more than whites. African Americans tend to develop more chronic disease of aging than other ethic populations. We can learn to create supportive environments and in our neighborhoods. Learn to eat less animal and dairy fat. Think about the air when you turn up the eat with meat. Avoid pesticides in your produce. Find personal-care products. Go green and support urban forestry. Smile and acknowledge those around you. Strengthen your close relationships and do not take things for granted. Show gratitude and appreciation. Be present and give your fullest and sincere attention.

It feels so good to belong to a cohesive group. It feels good to be in connection with others – to give or receive advice, borrow or lend something, work together, or share tears and feel understood. – Elizabeth Blackburn

Pregnancy: Cellular Aging Begins in the Womb. The baby’s telomeres get affect if her mother smokes. Parents have the ability to shape a kid’s telomeres before they are even born. Parents can pass shortened telomeres to their children. The education levels of the parents do matter. Telomeres are trans-generational. Hence, babies can inherit the short telomeres from their mum. Hence, social advantage can actually be passed down through the generations. However, understand that biology is not destiny and we can do things to maintain our telomeres in our lifetime. There is never really a level playing field out there. Protein deprivation is apparently bad for the baby. Folate is an important nutrient during pregnancy. Baby’s telomeres are listening to mom’s stress. A mum must take good steps to care for her baby. Avoid chemical exposure at home at all costs.

Conclusion

Entwined: Our Cellular Legacy. We all hope for a long and good life, with a strong wellbeing. We cannot change our genes. To some extent, we can change our telomeres. They are objective and unbiased. When we protect our telomeres, we also spread the good around for others. Stress and adversity are bad for our telomeres. Policymakers should strive for societal stress reduction. In general, the higher the income inequality, the worst the mental health. We can all share knowledge with one another and try to be better. We are all connected with other organisms and have a natural connection with other creatures. We carry a shared part of the outside world. We are all more connected, more so than ever before. The first step is definitely to take care of yourself.

The End!

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The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel (Part 2)

Renewal Lab. Learn to reduce ‘ego threat’ stress. Tell yourself that your identity runs wide and deep. Write down the goals and values that matter most to you and stick to that. This has been proven to help reduce stress responses. When you understand that no one big event can hurt you, you become less stressed over the negative occurrence of any one event. Learn to distance your thoughts from your emotions. Use the third party pronoun and not ‘I’ too frequently. One can also apply time distancing, this means you imagine whether an event will affect you in 10 years’ time. One can also apply visual self-distancing. Imagine that you are viewing an event from afar. Pretend to be a third party witnessing yourself act. This technique of mentally stepping outside of your body can work well.

Mind Your Telomeres: Negative Thinking, Resilient Thinking. Thought suppression isn’t healthy and good for our telomeres. Negative thinking isn’t good too. Try to learn about your style of thinking. Cynical hostility isn’t good at all. A lot of these thoughts are actually automatic. One strategy is to learn to laugh at your negative thoughts. Hostility is associated with anger and thoughts that people cannot be trusted. Pessimists typically predict that a bad outcome is going to emerge. Pessimists are also associated with shorter telomeres. Pessimists tend to hate stressful situations and worry that they are not up to the mark. The human mind tends to wander and not focus on the task at hand. However, activities like sex, engaging in conversation and exercising produce less mind-wandering. If you are not fully engaged in an activity, you tend not to be happy. Multi-tasking actually is a source of noxious stress. To do something effectively, it is better to only do one thing at a time. It would be wise for you to try to eliminate distractions and to focus on the task at hand. Rumination is about rehashing your problems over and over again. Instead of finding a solution, people feel worse in this process. People who ruminate experience more depression and anxiety. Thought suppression is about pushing away unwanted thoughts. The more you try to push something away, the more it will call for your attention. This is also known as ironic error. Scolding yourself when negative thoughts emerge is unlikely to work. One can use resilient thinking, which is based on acceptance and mindfulness. Exercise thought awareness and loosen the grip of negative thought patterns. This is not thought stopping, but simply viewing the thoughts with more clarity. Meditation and long distance running can help with thought awareness. Stand like an observer and witness your thoughts passing by. A lot of the thoughts are repeat of thoughts that came before. Understand that thoughts will fade after a while. It is advisable not to believe everything that you think. Mindfulness is really about training the mind to focus. Now, I can focus better on whatever I do. Close your eyes and breathe once you experience negative thoughts. You do not need to go for a long course on mindfulness to be good. Meditating also increase your sense of purpose in life. A stronger life purpose can definitely give you better resilience in life. Being happy and having a purpose are often closely linked. Having a purpose is associated with eudaemonic happiness. This is associated with a strong sense of values and purpose. Volunteering to help the community can certainly be very rewarding. Volunteering can produce 2 to 3 years of reverse aging. Being conscientious is a good trait for your telomeres. These people tend to have long term goals and longer telomeres. Having good impulse control is important. Self-compassion is also another technique and it means kindness towards yourself and not beat yourself up. Be patient and be tolerant towards others. When you fail at something, do you berate yourself? It is good to be high in self-compassion. Developing self-reliance helps towards building stress resilience. Start your day with gratitude and say ‘I am alive and I will seize the day!’. Learn to understand your habits of thinking. When encountering something stressful, try to take a self-compassion break. Tell yourself that suffering is a part of life and also say ‘may I be kind to myself’. Be wary of the internal critic inside of you. Think about what do you want people who to remember you as in a few words as possible. Articulate what are the more important principles in your life and write them down. If your life is too boring, engage in cognitive exercises and do something out of the ordinary.

We push away our bad feelings, which inevitably roar back, and then we feel bad, and then we feel bad about feeling bad. – Elizabeth Blackburn

The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all. – Leo Rosten

When Blue Turns to Gray: Depression and Anxiety. Some people suffer from a panic attack, an intense episode of fear and anxiety. Depressed people feel that there is no possibility in life. If you have depression, the onset of more serious illnesses will come faster. Anxiety is characterized by dread/worry. Some people have anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are associated with shorter telomere lengths. Women who are depressed have shorter telomeres. Sometimes, people whose cells experience telomere shortening have cells producing more telomerase. However, this attempt at producing more telomere fails. Telomere length can also increase if the anxiety goes away after a while. Mice who are subjected to a lot of stress develop an excessive number of mitochondria. Depression is a dysfunctional response to stress. Negative thoughts are not signs that you are unworthy, but are substances of depression. If you are anxious, you will need to learn to face the fear of the item and deal with it head on, in a brave manner. Depression is chronic in nature. There is a sense of contentment of focusing all your attention on a small task. Take a 3 minute breathing break. Breathe and become aware. Gather your attention by breathing and exhaling slowly. Paced breathing can help to lower blood pressure.

Instead of frantically striving to change things, you can choose to do little things that bring you pleasure, and things that help you feel masterful and in control. – Elizabeth Blackburn

When we breathe in, our heart rate goes up. When we exhale, our heart rate goes down. By having a longer exhalation than inhalation, we can slow our heart rate more, and we can also stimulate the vagus nerve. – Elizabeth Blackburn

Master tips for renewal: Stress-reducing techniques shown to boost telomere maintenance. Meditation has a lot of benefits and has been shown to be able to improve well-being. People who meditate tend to have longer telomeres. Staying at a retreat has a powerful effect as you are unplugged from tech devices. Those without meditation experience can try the mindfulness based stress reduction programme or MBSR. MBSR is good for those who want to reduce stress. There is much literature on the health benefits of yoga. It improves the quality of life and mood for many people. It can improve spine bone density if practiced long term. Qigong is part of the wellness progress for Chinese medicine. Qigong reduces depression and may improve diabetes. Qigong exercises are easy and can give you a sense of calm in minutes.

Help your Body Protect its Cells. Stressful long-term events have the potential to contribute to telomere shortening. Do you suffer from mood disorders? Try to figure out how much social support do you have? The more physical activity you do, the better it is for your body. One should engage in aerobic activity at least 150 minutes per week and engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days per week. Exercising more can increase your telomerase levels too. Do consider your nutritional needs as well. Eat food with antioxidants and vitamins and avoid sugar carbonated beverages. Choose an area to focus on where you have weak scores. Choose one area to work on at a time.

Training Your Telomeres: How Much Exercise is Enough? Try to avoid being a weekend warrior when it comes to exercise. Do not overtrain or over-exert unnecessarily. Over-training is characterized by sleep changes, fatigue, mood swings etc. Telomeres do not need extreme fitness regimes to thrive on. How does exercise work wonders for your body? There are cellular benefits of exercise. Ideally, our cells should have enough antioxidants. When free radicals build up, it is bad for our body. Exercise is very valuable in the short term, as it stimulates the body to produce more antioxidants. When you exercise more, your body produces less cortisol and you feel calmer. People who exercise regularly have a more robust immune system. Exercising regularly can help to delay the onset of immunosenescence. Exercise also helps to maintain your telomeres. Both moderate aerobic endurance exercise and HIIT are useful. Those who increased their aerobic fitness the most experienced growth in telomerase activity. Strength training helps to improve bone density and muscle mass. Fitness is one of the keys for telomere health. Even though you might be naturally fit, exercise will still help you keep your telomeres healthy. Is too much exercise bad? The benefits of extreme endurance do not seem to be useful. It is important to start exercising when you are young, and never be discouraged. Learn to read the signs of over-training and avoid them as much as possible. Even if your schedule is packed, find time to slip in some exercise. In addition to your exercise regime, it is still important to keep moving throughout the day.

People who exercise live longer and have a lowered risk of high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And they avoid dementia for longer. – Elizabeth Blackburn

Exercise can improve your mood for up to 3 hours after working out and can reduce stress reactivity. Stress can shorten telomeres, but exercise shields telomeres from some of stress’s damage. – Elizabeth Blackburn

Tired Telomeres: From Exhaustion to Restoration. How can we get more sleep? Cognitive changes and mindfulness will enable you to get more sleep. If you feel sleepy during the day, it is a clear sign you need more sleep at night. Poor sleep will definitely affect your well-being in life. Insomnia is associated with shorter telomeres. Sleep is the most restorative activity that you can actually perform. REM sleep helps to regulate your appetite as well. Poor REM sleep results in higher level of cortisol and insulin, stimulating your appetite. Sleep helps us to refresh emotionally too. Longer sleep results in longer telomeres. 7 or more hours of sleep is the key. Sleep quality matters a lot too. Going to bed at regular hours help in your cell’s ability to regulate telomerase. When you suffer from insomnia, you tend to worry as you are afraid that you will not be able to function after a poor night’s sleep. When such thoughts come to mind, learn to challenge them instead. How can someone suffering from chronic insomnia get better sleep? Avoid engaging in mind-sapping activities just before bed-time. Avoid light sources like phones/laptops. One can consider some light reading/ some classical music. Blue light can supresses melatonin. Minimize light from windows and digital clocks, if possible. Tune out your environment from light and noise distractions. Always try to eat and sleep at regular times. Sleep procrastination is a big problem in modern society. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, go for a check-up. Learn to adopt the following 5 bedtime rituals. The first is to spend 5 minutes in transition. The next is to listen to soothing music. Set a mood for relaxation Brew warm herbal tea. Perform bedtime stretches (gentle rolling of the head and neck, forward bend, child’s pose).

When you are well slept, you are better at learning and remembering. Tired people just aren’t as successful at focusing their attention, so they don’t take in new information as well. – Elizabeth Blackburn

If you feel terrible without 8 or 9 hours of sleep. Don’t try to scrape by with 7. Get those extra hours. And remember that rule of thumb, which offers highly customized sleep advice: If you feel sleepy during the day, you need more sleep at night. – Elizabeth Blackburn

Telomeres Weigh in: A Healthy Metabolism. Belly fat is something that must be avoided. It is a good idea to bring a salad to work as it is healthy. Some people find it hard not to think about food. Eating too much does affect your telomeres, but not as much as depression. Weight is a not very accurate measure of metabolic health. Dieting is not the only way to get healthier. You can be of a normal weight, but if you have a belly, it doesn’t bode well for you. Belly fat, high cholesterol and high blood pressures are key risk factors for diabetes. High belly fat might indicate poor glucose control or insulin resistance. Globally, 9% of people have diabetes. People with diabetes find that it is more difficult for glucose to enter the cells. People with belly fat tend to develop shorter telomeres. There is a connection between short telomeres and diabetes. Weight cycling (increase and decrease) is very unhealthy and should be avoided. Constantly thinking about eating less also produces a cognitive strain. Instead of dieting, one could be physically active and eat nutritious foods. Reducing sugar can lead to metabolic improvements and simple carbs are bad. There is mixed research on caloric restriction. Learn to measure your insulin sensitivity by testing your fasting insulin and glucose. Cutting back on sugar will work wonders for your body. When you crave for sugar, surf the urge. Sit down and close your eyes and imagine the snack and the flavour, but do not eat it. Understand that the cravings will pass and dissipate. Stop eating when you are moderately full, at around 7 or 8 out of 10.

This idea – that improving your metabolic health is more important than losing weight – is vital, and that’s because repeated dieting takes a toll on your body. – Elizabeth Blackburn

Our body has a set point that it defends, and when we lose weight, we also slow our metabolism in an effort to regain the weight (metabolic adaptation). – Elizabeth Blackburn

Dieting can create a semi-addictive state, and it’s also just plain stressful. Monitoring calories causes cognitive load, meaning that it uses up the brain’s limited attention and increases how much stress you feel. – Elizabeth Blackburn

To Be Continued 🙂

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