Forget dumbbells and work on your SOH: funny guys get more girls

The best predictor of whether you will get sex, is more likely to be your ability to turn a phrase into a joke, than your ability to curl a dumbbell into a bicep.

Jeremy: "Would you like to come meditate at my house?"  Don: "Nah-mah-stay right here..."

Jeremy: “Would you like to come meditate at my house?”
Don: “Nah-mah-stay right here…”

Jeremy: “Would you like to come meditate at my house?”
Don: “Nah-mah-stay right here…”

Image: Jeremy Britton & Don Tolman, photo by Harri K Connex

A good sense of humour is sexually attractive, perhaps because it reveals intelligence, creativity, and other ‘good genes’ or ‘good parent’ traits.

If so, intelligence should predict humour production ability, which in turn should predict mating success.

In this study, 400 university students (200 men and 200 women) completed measures of abstract reasoning (Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices), verbal intelligence (the vocabulary subtest of the Multidimensional Aptitude Battery), humour production ability (rated funniness of captions written for three cartoons), and mating success (from the Sexual Behaviors and Beliefs Questionnaire).

Structural equation models showed that general and verbal intelligence both predict humour production ability, which in turn predicts mating success, such as lifetime number of sexual partners. Also, males showed higher average humour production ability. These results suggest that the human sense of humour evolved at least partly through sexual selection as an intelligence-indicator.

Research highlights

► Test if a humour is an intelligence indicator that translates into mating success.

► On average, males were funnier than women.

► Humour mediates the effect of intelligence on mating success for both sexes.

Source: “Humor ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males” from Intelligence

#peoplebesayin' "Make yourself at home", but then totally lose their shit when I sit on the couch naked and eat all their donuts... #butyousaid

#peoplebesayin’ “Make yourself at home”, but then totally lose their shit when I sit on the couch naked and eat all their donuts… #butyousaid

#peoplebesayin’ “Make yourself at home”, but then totally lose their shit when I sit on the couch naked and eat all their donuts… #butyousaid

Takeaway Lesson #1 — don’t watch porn or workout videos to try to get more sex. Watch some comedy, have a laugh, and if you if you want to lay down with that special someone, first work on your private “standup” routine.

Image: Jeremy Britton, photo from

NB: Americans spell “humour” as “humor” and “behaviour” as “behavior”, hence the titular differences above. The traditional English spelling of humour, behaviour, colour and flavour is preferred, as there is no such language as “US-English” and the movie “Idiocracy” should be a warning, not a prophecy. 

Source: Can you predict how many women a man has slept with by how funny he is? – Barking Up The Wrong Tree
Posted in coaching, funny, happiness, humor, humour, Lifehack, relationships, sex, wealth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ladies: is his p3ni$ “evil”?

penis 003

Ladies: is his p3ni$ “evil”?

“Is his p3ni$ ‘evil’?” Right now, depending upon your point of view, or depending on your past experiences, you may be thinking, “Yes” or “No” or “No more evil than my p@$$y”…

Some ladies may be thinking: “What a stupid question”.

Obviously no man is born with an evil penis*, just as no girl is born with an evil vadge*. Like all babies, you were born innocent and cute, with all of the correct equipment you need to get through your life.

Your equipment is merely a tool which can be used for a multitude of purposes. A (wo)man can rape, or a (wo)man can make love to a partner in incredibly beautiful ways. Your hands that can hit an attacker, can also be used to caress a loved one. Your muscles can be used to oppress someone, or to rescue them from disaster.

In a similar fashion, you could view other non-bodily tools as neutral; able to become “good” or “evil” by the mere intention of the holder.

Electricity can cook your meal or electiricity can kill someone, depending upon how it is used. Water can quench your thirst or water can drown you, depending on how much you ingest. Sunlight can tan your skin or the sun can roast your skin, depending on your exposure. And what about money?

Money Is Not The Root Of All Evil
Money Is The Route To All Freedom

Traditionally, many poorer people were taught by the ancient Christian church that “money is evil” (a completely misquoted text, sometimes still misquoted today). This BS (Belief System) is demonstrably untrue, yet the long-held societal conditioning of it may still affect many people to this day.

Most modern people do not believe the number 13 is, in itself, or of itself, “unlucky”, yet we can still visit modern hotels without a 13th floor or motels that are missing a room 13… This totally unrealistic belief or superstition about the number 13 from the Middle Ages, still affects our daily lives in the 21st century. Thankfully it does not limit us from living a free life, but how about that old money belief?

Richer people or those who were not Christian, were often given the belief that money is a tool, and not evil or good, until it is used.

You can see how the Belief System (BS) propogated by the early church was good for the church (who accumulated vast fortunes at the expense of their flock), but the hypocrisy of a rich clergy glorifying poverty stands obvious for all but the most mindless sheep.

Some traditional or brainwashed Christians may still view the Asian or Jewish encouragement of hard work and accumulation of wealth as a promotion of selfishness – overlooking the Truth of an abundant and loving God/Universe.

In Truth, financial wealth is simply a means to an end. Whilst the early church used to comfort the sick or suffering by saying “their reward will be great in Heaven”, almost nobody falls for that BS anymore (and most religious people are happy to visit doctors).

You can view having abundant wealth in the same way as having abundant health: if I am well, I can help many people; if I am sick, I can’t help anyone, and cannot even help myself.

In Truth, financial wealth/physical health is not simply a means of personal enrichment. Money or vitality is a tool that can be used to fulfill your duty to help others.

The selfish pursuit of money for its own end, is a hollow goal, but the pursuit of the goodness that money can bring is one of your greatest responsibilities and can also be one of your greatest joys.

The more money you have, the more ability you have to positively change the lives of those who are in need. If you are poor and kind, and your friend’s house is burned in a fire, you will remain a good person but have limited ability to help them with what they need. If the same house burns and you are rich, you can give your friend a place to stay or a new home because you have more than enough for yourself and can assist anyone around you who needs it.

Money, like your other equipment, is a tool. Money has no feeling, no voice, and no soul – its choice between good or evil is decided by those who use it.

Though it is not wrong to be poor, the celebration of poverty is mired in selfishness.

If you are poor, you can still save a life, but if you are rich, you can build a hospital and save ten thousand lives.

The poor can do little to help the poor, but the rich can help as many as they are able.

If you are rich, you have the opportunity to do much good, but if you are poor, you are unable to help anyone but yourself.

But what if I don’t have any money right now, how can I be generous and noble? 

Even if you have little, you can still do much. Money is merely paper and numbers that are traded for your time and effort. Therefore if you do not have money, you can still use your time and efforts to help others – positive actions and use of your time or effort are of equivalent value to any charitable cash donations.

The greater your fortune, in health or wealth or time or money, the greater your responsibility to your fellow humans. Those with the greatest power can do the greatest good for the largest number of those who are currently less fortunate.

Takeaway Homework: 

  1. Step up and open your wallet to give money: the amount does not matter, but the consistent daily or weekly habit does. If opened to give, your finances are also open to receive, and “as you send out, it will come back to you”. 
  2. Step up and open your heart and hands to give: your consistent efforts will go out to serve others and in turn, others (or God/Universe) will ultimately serve you in the same (or better) way. 

penis 002

*(we are not prudes, just trying to avoid getting too many red flags on Google)

If you have any old limiting (BS) Belief Systems which may be holding you back, (whether from religion, parents, teachers or inherited), do whatever you can to clear them out from your subconscious mind. Consider meditation, hypnotherapy or the “Flick Your Rich Switch Technique” (FYRST®)

Once you have removed any past conditioning or BS, then you are better able to operate in the new abundant paradigm, create better health or wealth, adopt new empowering beliefs, or use affirmations or incantations. This “cleansing of the mind” is as important as cleaning the poison out from the cup before you add your coffee!

For a selection of free wealth creation guided meditation audio MP3’s, visit — no fee, no opt-in, no commitment, just great product. Please pay it forward by sharing on social media and sending your friends to the same place you went, so you can all take up the challenge 🙂

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Neuroscience: 4 Ways of Tricking Your Brain Into Making You Stress-Free

Neuroscience Reveals 4 Easy Rituals That Will Make You Stress-Free

The modern world seems to be designed to increase stress and I’m starting to wonder if worrying will soon be an Olympic sport.

You may have your own ways of coping with stress. Problem is, research says they probably don’t work.

From The Willpower Instinct:

The APA’s national survey on stress found that the most commonly used strategies were also rated as highly ineffective by the same people who reported using them. For example, only 16 percent of people who eat to reduce stress report that it actually helps them. Another study found that women are most likely to eat chocolate when they are feeling anxious or depressed, but the only reliable change in mood they experience from their drug of choice is an increase in guilt.

So let’s go after this stress thing where it lives: your brain. There are some great methods to train your mind to reduce stress…

But they take work. And right now you’re too stressed out for any of that. (Or maybe you’re just lazy and impatient. Hey, I don’t judge.)

So we need some stuff that’s diabolically easy and backed by neuroscience research — but let’s keep the emphasis on diabolical. If your brain won’t play fair, neither will we. So what do we need here?

Old fashioned treachery. Of the neuroscience variety. Time to do an end run around your brain’s stress response and exploit physiology to trick it into calming down. Let’s play neurological hardball…


1) Clench Your Facial Muscles And Relax Them

Communication between your brain and your body is a two-way street. There’s a feedback loop. So if you can’t get your brain to make your body calm down, you can use your body to make your brain calm down.

Your grey matter gets stressed and your muscles tighten up. Then your tense muscles send a signal back to your brain, confirming you’re stressed. We gotta break the loop.

Clench your facial muscles and then relax them. Now your body is sending a signal to your brain saying, “We’re not stressed anymore. You shouldn’t be either.”

From The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:

To remind your brain to relax your muscles, sometimes it’s helpful to clench them first. Take a deep breath in and then flex a tight muscle for a few seconds. After holding for a few seconds, exhale with a sigh and relax. The most important muscles to relax are your facial muscles, since those have the largest effect on emotion, but relaxing your hands, butt, and stomach are also important.

If your partner is around and you don’t feel like making a face that looks like you’re constipated, have them give you a massage. That works too.

(To learn the four rituals neuroscience says will make you happier, click here.)

So funny faces can beat stress. Or maybe you’re getting a massage instead. That’s even better. You’re less stressed and you’re bonding with your partner.

But what if facial scrunching doesn’t work? What other dirty physiological tricks do we have?


2) Take Slow, Deep Breaths

The vagus nerve is one of the key emotional highways in your body. It sends signals down to your heart and up to your brain playing a critical role in regulating the fight-or-flight system.

Directly stimulating the vagus nerve can fix all your issues… Only problem is that would require a scalpel and a lot of medical school loans. So we’ll stay focused on treachery.

How you breathe can hijack the way the vagus nerve works. In fact, it’s one of the fastest ways to change your emotional state.

From The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:

Breathing affects the brain through signals carried by the vagus nerve. Not only does the vagus nerve send signals down to the heart, as mentioned earlier, but it also carries signals up into the brain stem. Vagus nerve signaling is important in activating circuits for resting and relaxation, known as the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic system is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight instinct. Slow breathing increases activity in the vagus nerve and pushes the brain toward parasympathetic activity. So slow, deep breathing calms you down.

So how do you do it right?

From The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:

Breathe in slowly through your nose while counting slowly to six (or even eight). Pause for a couple seconds at the top of your inhalation and then exhale slowly through your nose for the same count.

And this is no small effect. After the US military taught Navy SEAL recruits a few psychological tricks (including proper breathing) passing rates jumped from 25% to 33%.

An interesting side note: do the opposite and you’ll get the opposite effect. Need more energy? Breathe quickly.

From The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:

By contrast, rapid breathing deactivates the parasympathetic nervous system and activates the sympathetic nervous system. When you are anxious, excited, or scared, you breathe quickly. But it’s also true that if you breathe quickly, you’re more likely to feel those feelings. Fast breathing can make you more nervous— but also more excited. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Maybe you need a bit more energy to make it to the gym (or to do anything at all). Try quick, shallow breaths for twenty to thirty seconds.

(For more from neuroscientist Alex Korb on how to make your brain happy, click here.)

What if this doesn’t work? You’re huffing and puffing and you’re still worried your house is going to get blown down. Head to the sink, my friend…


3) Splash Your Face With Cold Water

Cold water on your face will jolt your vagus nerve and slow your heart rate. Your brain feels your heart rate dropping and says, “We must not be stressed anymore.” (Ha! Stupid brain…)

From The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:

Sudden cold water on your face slows down your heart rate by indirectly stimulating the vagus nerve. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, find a sink, fill your hands with cold water, and splash it on your face.

(To learn the methods bomb disposal experts use to stay calm under pressure, click here.)

Alright, maybe you’ve made funny faces, you’re breathing like Darth Vader and your face is soaking wet — but you’re still stressed. Do not worry. (Or I should say, “Do not worry even more.”) Neuroscience has another sneaky trick. And this one is fun…


4) Play Music And Do A Little Dance

Music affects how you feel, right? Fight the bad feelings with good feelings by listening to the music you love.

Sound overly simple? Nope. Your favorite song will passively help straighten out key limbic system regions like your hippocampus, your anterior cingulate and your nucleus accumbens. Making music has an even more powerful effect.

And, no, you don’t have to do a little dance. But you get bonus points if you do.

From The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:

Whether playing an instrument or listening to the radio, music increases heart-rate variability, though making music has a stronger effect. Music engages most of the limbic system, including the hippocampus, anterior cingulate, and nucleus accumbens, which is why it can be motivating and enjoyable and can help regulate your emotions. It can also be soothing, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. So sing along with the radio or just make a playlist of your favorite songs. Better yet, go dancing. Dancing combines music, exercise, and being social, so you get a triple boost to an upward spiral.

(To learn what ancient wisdom says will make you happy, click here.)

Alright, you’ve fooled your brain into a state of calm that would make Zen masters envious. Let’s round up what we learned and do something fun together that will relieve stress and make you smile instantly…


Sum Up

Here’s how neuroscience and treachery can make you stress-free:

  • Clench your facial muscles and relax them: (If you use Botox, just skip to the next tip.)
  • Take slow, deep breaths: If it gets Navy SEALs through Hell Week, it’ll get you through tax season.
  • Splash your face with cold water: Wakes you up, calms you down and cleans your mug. Now that’s efficiency.
  • Play some music and do a little dance: Add a “neuroscience” playlist to Spotify.

So how can you kill stress and be happier with almost no effort whatsoever?

Research shows that owning a dog reduces stress. In fact, the effect is so powerful that just watching a video of a cute animal reduces heart rate and blood pressure in under a minute.

From 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

In an innovative study, Deborah Wells examined whether merely looking at a video of an animal can have the same type of calming and restorative effects as those created by being in its company… Compared to the two control conditions, all three animal videos made the participants feel much more relaxed. To help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure in less than a minute, go online and watch a video of a cute animal.

You want easy stress relief? All you have to do is click…

Author: Eric Barker, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Posted in business, happiness, health, Lifehack, meditation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier (it’s science!)

14 minutes to read

stand out in sunrise

Happiness is so interesting, because we all have different ideas about what it is and how to get it. It’s also no surprise that it’s the Number.1 value for Buffer’s culture, if you see our slidedeck about it. So naturally we are obsessed with it.

I would love to be happier, as I’m sure most people would, so I thought it would be interesting to find some ways to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science. Here are ten of the best ones I found.

1. Exercise more – 7 minutes might be enough

You might have seen some talk recently about the scientific 7 minute workout mentioned in The New York Times. So if you thought exercise was something you didn’t have time for, maybe you can fit it in after all.

Exercise has such a profound effect on our happiness and well-being that it’s actually been proven to be an effective strategy for overcoming depression. In a study cited in Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage 1, three groups of patients treated their depression with either medication, exercise, or a combination of the two. The results of this study really surprised me. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels to begin with, the follow up assessments proved to be radically different:

The groups were then tested six months later to assess their relapse rate. Of those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!


You don’t have to be depressed to gain benefit from exercise, though. It can help you to relax, increase your brain power and even improve your body image, even if you don’t lose any weight.

A study in the Journal of Health Psychology 2 found that people who exercised felt better about their bodies, even when they saw no physical changes:

Body weight, shape and body image were assessed in 16 males and 18 females before and after both 6 × 40 mins exercise and 6 × 40 mins reading. Over both conditions, body weight and shape did not change. Various aspects of body image, however, improved after exercise compared to before.

We’ve explored exercise in depth before, and looked at what it does to our brains, such as releasing proteins and endorphins that make us feel happier, as you can see in the image below.

make yourself happier - exercise

2. Sleep more – you’ll be less sensitive to negative emotions

We know that sleep helps our bodies to recover from the day and repair themselves, and that it helps us focus and be more productive. It turns out, it’s also important for our happiness.

In NutureShock 3, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explain how sleep affects our positivity:

Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories gets processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine.

In one experiment by Walker, sleep-deprived college students tried to memorize a list of words. They could remember 81% of the words with a negative connotation, like “cancer.” But they could remember only 31% of the words with a positive or neutral connotation, like “sunshine” or “basket.”

The BPS Research Digest explores another study 4 that proves sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. Using a facial recognition task over the course of a day, the researchers studied how sensitive participants were to positive and negative emotions. Those who worked through the afternoon without taking a nap became more sensitive late in the day to negative emotions like fear and anger.

Using a face recognition task, here we demonstrate an amplified reactivity to anger and fear emotions across the day, without sleep. However, an intervening nap blocked and even reversed this negative emotional reactivity to anger and fear while conversely enhancing ratings of positive (happy) expressions.

Of course, how well (and how long) you sleep will probably affect how you feel when you wake up, which can make a difference to your whole day. Especially this graph showing how your brain activity decreases is a great insight about how important enough sleep is for productivity and happiness:

make yourself happier

Another study 5 tested how employees’ moods when they started work in the morning affected their work day.

Researchers found that employees’ moods when they clocked in tended to affect how they felt the rest of the day. Early mood was linked to their perceptions of customers and to how they reacted to customers’ moods.

And most importantly to managers, employee mood had a clear impact on performance, including both how much work employees did and how well they did it.

Sleep is another topic we’ve looked into before, exploring how much sleep we really need to be productive.

3. Move closer to work – a short commute is worth more than a big house

Our commute to the office can have a surprisingly powerful impact on our happiness. The fact that we tend to do this twice a day, five days a week, makes it unsurprising that its effect would build up over time and make us less and less happy.

According to The Art of Manliness 6, having a long commute is something we often fail to realize will affect us so dramatically:

… while many voluntary conditions don’t affect our happiness in the long term because we acclimate to them, people never get accustomed to their daily slog to work because sometimes the traffic is awful and sometimes it’s not. Or as Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert put it, “Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day.”

We tend to try to compensate for this by having a bigger house or a better job, but these compensations just don’t work:

Two Swiss economists who studied the effect of commuting on happiness found that such factors could not make up for the misery created by a long commute.

Love this post? Pass it along! Schedule this post to send to your followers when they’re most likely to see it.

4. Spend time with friends and family – don’t regret it on your deathbed

Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying 7. If you want more evidence that it’s beneficial for you, I’ve found some research that proves it can make you happier right now.

Social time is highly valuable when it comes to improving our happiness, even for introverts. Several studies have found that time spent with friends and family makes a big difference to how happy we feel, generally.

I love the way Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert 8 explains it:

We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.

George Vaillant is the director of a 72-year study of the lives of 268 men.

In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

He shared insights of the study with Joshua Wolf Shenk at The Atlantic 9 on how the men’s social connections made a difference to their overall happiness:

The men’s relationships at age 47, he found, predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable, except defenses. Good sibling relationships seem especially powerful: 93 percent of the men who were thriving at age 65 had been close to a brother or sister when younger.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics 10 states than your relationships are worth more than $100,000:

Using the British Household Panel Survey, I find that an increase in the level of social involvements is worth up to an extra £85,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction. Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.

I think that last line is especially fascinating: Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness. So we could increase our annual income by hundreds of thousands of dollars and still not be as happy as if we increased the strength of our social relationships.

The Terman study, which is covered in The Longevity Project 11, found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives:

We figured that if a Terman participant sincerely felt that he or she had friends and relatives to count on when having a hard time then that person would be healthier. Those who felt very loved and cared for, we predicted, would live the longest.

Surprise: our prediction was wrong… Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others. Those who helped their friends and neighbors, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age.

5. Go outside – happiness is maximized at 13.9°C

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor recommends spending time in the fresh air to improve your happiness:

Making time to go outside on a nice day also delivers a huge advantage; one study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory…

This is pretty good news for those of us who are worried about fitting new habits into our already-busy schedules. Twenty minutes is a short enough time to spend outside that you could fit it into your commute or even your lunch break.

A UK study from the University of Sussex 12 also found that being outdoors made people happier:

Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot for most. In fact, participants were found to be substantially happier outdoors in all natural environments than they were in urban environments.

The American Meteorological Society 13 published research in 2011 that found current temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity, or even the average temperature over the course of a day. It also found that happiness is maximized at 13.9°C, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before heading outside for your 20 minutes of fresh air.

The connection between productivity and temperature is another topic we’ve talked about more here. It’s fascinating what a small change in temperature can do.

6. Help others – 100 hours a year is the magical number

One of the most counterintuitive pieces of advice I found is that to make yourself feel happier, you should help others. In fact, 100 hours per year (or two hours per week) is the optimal time we should dedicate to helping others in order to enrich our lives.

If we go back to Shawn Achor’s book again, he says this about helping others:

…when researchers interviewed more than 150 people about their recent purchases, they found that money spent on activities—such as concerts and group dinners out—brought far more pleasure than material purchases like shoes, televisions, or expensive watches. Spending money on other people, called “prosocial spending,” also boosts happiness.

The Journal of Happiness Studies 14 published a study that explored this very topic:

Participants recalled a previous purchase made for either themselves or someone else and then reported their happiness. Afterward, participants chose whether to spend a monetary windfall on themselves or someone else. Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future.

So spending money on other people makes us happier than buying stuff for ourselves. What about spending our time on other people? A study of volunteering in Germany 15 explored how volunteers were affected when their opportunities to help others were taken away:

 Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall but before the German reunion, the first wave of data of the GSOEP was collected in East Germany. Volunteering was still widespread. Due to the shock of the reunion, a large portion of the infrastructure of volunteering (e.g. sports clubs associated with firms) collapsed and people randomly lost their opportunities for volunteering. Based on a comparison of the change in subjective well-being of these people and of people from the control group who had no change in their volunteer status, the hypothesis is supported that volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction.

In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being 16, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives:

…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.

7. Practice smiling – it can alleviate pain

Smiling itself can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study 17:

A new study led by a Michigan State University business scholar suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts – such as a tropical vacation or a child’s recital – improve their mood and withdraw less.

Of course it’s important to practice “real smiles” where you use your eye sockets. It’s very easy to spot the difference:

make yourself happier smiling

According to PsyBlog 18, smiling can improve our attention and help us perform better on cognitive tasks:

Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically. When this idea was tested by Johnson et al. (2010), the results showed that participants who smiled performed better on attentional tasks which required seeing the whole forest rather than just the trees.

A smile is also a good way to alleviate some of the pain we feel in troubling circumstances:

Smiling is one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis. Even forcing a smile when we don’t feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly (this is one example of embodied cognition).

One of our previous posts goes into even more detail about the science of smiling.

8. Plan a trip – but don’t take one

As opposed to actually taking a holiday, it seems that planning a vacation or just a break from work can improve our happiness. A study published in the journal, Applied Research in Quality of Life 19 showed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as employees enjoyed the sense of anticipation:

In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.

After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people.

Shawn Achor has some info for us on this point, as well:

One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent.

If you can’t take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar—even if it’s a month or a year down the road. Then whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it.

9. Meditate – rewire your brain for happiness

Meditation is often touted as an important habit for improving focus, clarity and attention span, as well as helping to keep you calm. It turns out it’s also useful for improving your happiness:

In one study, a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the brain scans of 16 people before and after they participated in an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation. The study, published in the January issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, concluded that after completing the course, parts of the participants’ brains associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, and parts associated with stress shrank.

Meditation literally clears your mind and calms you down, it’s been often proven to be the single most effective way to live a happier life. I believe that this graphic explains it the best:

calming-mind-brain-waves make yourself happier

According to Shawn Achor, meditation can actually make you happier long-term:

Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness.

The fact that we can actually alter our brain structure through mediation is most surprising to me and somewhat reassuring that however we feel and think today isn’t permanent.

We’ve explored the topic of meditation and it’s effects on the brain in-depth before. It’s definitely mind-blowing what this can do to us.

10. Practice gratitude – increase both happiness and life satisfaction

This is a seemingly simple strategy, but I’ve personally found it to make a huge difference to my outlook. There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, from keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or your partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you.

In an experiment 20 where some participants took note of things they were grateful for each day, their moods were improved just from this simple practice:

The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.

The Journal of Happiness studies published a study 21 that used letters of gratitude to test how being grateful can affect our levels of happiness:

Participants included 219 men and women who wrote three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period.

Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms.

For further reading, check out 7 Simple productivity tips you can apply today, backed by science, which goes even deeper into what we can do to be more grateful.

Here’s a look at all 10 factors in case you’d like to Pin them for later:

10 happy tactics

Quick last fact: Getting older will make yourself happier

As a final point, it’s interesting to note that as we get older, particularly past middle age, we tend to grow happier naturally 22. There’s still some debate over why this happens, but scientists have got a few ideas:

Researchers, including the authors, have found that older people shown pictures of faces or situations tend to focus on and remember the happier ones more and the negative ones less.

Other studies have discovered that as people age, they seek out situations that will lift their moods — for instance, pruning social circles of friends or acquaintances who might bring them down. Still other work finds that older adults learn to let go of loss and disappointment over unachieved goals, and hew their goals toward greater wellbeing.

So if you thought being old would make you miserable, rest assured that it’s likely you’ll develop a more positive outlook than you probably have now.

Want to chat about this article? Leave a comment below or send me an email with your thoughts.

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Photo credit: Spencer Finnley, Dr. Chuck HillmanBerkeley, Paul Ekman, The Mind Unleashed.


  1. The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor
  2. How To Feel Better About Your Body, Backed By Research” the Journal of Health Psychology
  3. NutureShock,” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
  4. An afternoon nap tunes out negative emotions, tunes in positive ones” The BPS Research Digest
  5. Got up on the wrong side of the bed? Your work will show it.” by EurekAlert
  6. Where Is the Grass Greener? The Economics of Happiness” by Brett & Kate McKay
  7. Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Susie Steiner
  8. Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert
  9. What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Wolf Shenk at The Atlantic
  10. This Is What Your Relationships Are Worth In Dollars” by Erik Barker
  11. The Longevity Project” by Howard S. Friedman, Leslie R. Martin
  12. Sea + sun = happiness: science” by the University of Sussex
  13. Weather and Individual Happiness” by Yoshiro Tsutsui
  14. How To Create A Feedback Loop Of Happiness” by Erik Barker
  15. Is being selfless the smartest way to be selfish?” by Erik Barker
  16. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-beingby Martin E. P. Seligman
  17. For a better workday, smile like you mean it” by Michigan State University
  18. 10 Hidden Benefits of Smiling” by PsyBlog
  19. How Vacations Affect Your Happiness” by Tara Parker-Pope
  20. Was grandmom right about “counting your blessings’?’”” by Erik Barker
  21. How to quickly and easily feel happier and more satisfied with life” by Erik Barker
  22. Why are older people happier?” by Association for Psychological Science
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The 6 Fundamental Facebook Best Practices (infographic)

Facebook marketing is a must for social media marketers who want to reach broad audiences on the web, but effective Facebook marketing is not as simple as it once was. “With the sheer volume of users who are always plugged-in to social media thanks to the rise in smartphone usage, Facebook is an essential channel for marketers,” explains Katie Lynch, managing editor at Watchdog Reviews. “At the same time, Facebook has implemented changes in its algorithm and other measures that make organic reach increasingly difficult to come by.”

Gone are the days of simply posting your latest blog post on your company Facebook page and waiting for the clicks and likes to roll in. Today, effective Facebook strategy requires finesse, creativity and ideally, a budget. These fundamental best practices are crucial for reaching your audience on Facebook.

1. It’s all about video.

Video was becoming a strategic way to engage audiences before it was a core offering on Facebook, but since the dawn of Facebook video, it’s become one of the most effective ways to reach your audience on the platform. In 2015, the number of daily video views on Facebook reached a staggering 8 billion, and videos are more heavily promoted compared to photos.

Video marketing on Facebook isn’t guesswork, either. Facebook puts important engagement metrics at your fingertips, enabling marketers to further refine their Facebook video strategy to cater to the interests of their audience. “From defining who is viewing your video content to determining which segments of your audience watch the longest, whether they’re viewing your original video or accessing your content from a share, and other important metrics, Facebook’s video analytics help marketers carry out video marketing strategies with precision,” says Lynch.

2. Video is even better live.

If you thought the statistics on the popularity of videos was impressive, consider the fact that users spend about three times longer watching video that’s live compared to pre-recorded video content. First made available to all users in December 2015, Facebook Live has experienced massive success.

In fact, live video content is so popular that Facebook made it more prominent in news feeds, and it’s commented on about 10 times as often as pre-recorded video content. In other words, if you want to be seen on the popular social network, Live video is the way to gain prominence in your followers’ feeds and boost engagement.

3. Post less often, but post top-quality content.

Flooding your company’s Facebook page with a new post every hour used to be the way to ensure that your followers were exposed to your content pretty regularly. But in the last few years, marketers have experienced a sharp decline in organic reach, and that reach continues to drop with every post made throughout the day. What that means is that your first, second, and third posts on a given day will have far greater reach than your 10th, 11th, and 12th posts.

To make the most of this phenomenon, it makes sense to limit your posts to just a few per day but ensure that the content you do post is of the best quality. If you have news-worthy content, even better. “If you’re among the first few pages to post newsworthy content (relevant to your audience), then you might get an organic uptick,” explains Neil Patel in a July 2016 blog post. “This is especially true if you manage to send an update before it shows in the Trending Topics on the right sidebar.”

3. Less is more when it comes to word and character count.

Do you find yourself tempted to squeeze all the essential tidbits from your blog posts into your social media share on Facebook? Don’t. After about 400 characters, your post will be truncated anyway, and you need to catch the eye and attention of scrolling users. They’re not exactly likely to click on every truncated post in their news feed just to figure out if something is worth reading.

News Whip analyzed posts from five top news publishers to measure the average word count of the top 100 most-shared link posts in June 2016. “Three of the surveyed pages – BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and BBC News – have very short captions. Of the 500 posts we reviewed, 168 (33%) were ten words or less. 17 consisted of just one word,” explains News Whip in its analysis. “The wordiest post that we found was from Fox News, at 57 words.” Keep it short and concise, but meaningful.

4. Use post targeting options to reach your ideal audience.

One of Facebook’s biggest benefits for advertisers is its robust audience targeting options, but you can set targeting options for your organic posts, as well. From your business page, go to Settings and then select Preferred Page Audience. On this form, you can select a variety of targeting options to narrow your ideal audience by location, age, gender, interests, and languages.

Using the Preferred Page Audience settings doesn’t restrict access to your public content. However, it does enable Facebook to attempt to show your content to the audience that matters most to you.

5. Boost your most important or engaging posts.

You don’t have to create Facebook ads in order to tap into a broader audience on Facebook; you can boost your organic posts to get more exposure. The result is similar to an ad in that you’re paying to reach more people, although since your post originated as an organic post, it sometimes feels more natural.

While you probably don’t want to boost every organic post you share, you might consider boosting posts with important content or posts that are doing well organically (indicating that they’re resonating with your audience). Facebook’s excellent targeting options let you refine your target audience so that you’re not wasting your budget on users who aren’t your ideal customer.

6. Use Facebook Insights to refine your efforts and boost engagement.

On Facebook, engagement is the name of the game. Thanks to Facebook Insights, it’s easy to monitor how well your posts and marketing campaigns are performing overall. Every Facebook marketer should take full advantage of these comprehensive analytics to inform their campaigns.

Clicking on the Insights tab reveals a dashboard highlighting your page’s most crucial metrics, including actions on page, page views, page likes, reach, post engagements, messages, and videos. Clicking through to any one of those categories offers a more granular view of your data. You can even select “Posts” from the left-hand navigation menu for detailed analysis of how your individual posts performed. “Insights like these make it possible for marketers to identify trends, such as the types of posts their audience engages with most or specific times of the day when posts tend to get the most engagement,” Lynch explains. “Because target audiences all have their unique differences, analytics let marketers really hone in specific audience preferences to refine their efforts.”

Bonus infographic:
A Beginners Guide to Marketing on Facebook: 6 Fundamental Best Practices [Infographic]
Source: Sproutsocial.

Facebook is an ever-evolving landscape for marketers, with algorithm and policy changes shaking things up from time to time. Marketers who stay on top of the latest shifts and keep pace with current trends stand the best chance of standing out in the crowded Facebook space.




Source: The 6 Fundamental Facebook Best Practices (infographic)
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Do you want to be rich, or happy?

Would you like to be rich or would you like to be happy?

What does being rich give you… really?

Does being rich mean you will have a bigger house, a better car, more in the bank account, or better meals? If so, what do those things give you?

You, like many others, may want MORE, BIGGER, BETTER, and you work hard to get those things… and, truth be told, haven’t you had them in the past? Is your life right now (the life with which you find yourself currently dissatisfied)  somehow “bigger, better or more” than the life you used to have a few years ago?

Where you are now, is probably a result of you wanting something different in the past. Now you have what you once wanted, are you feeling good? Or do you still want more?

Do you want “bigger, better and more”? Really? Why?

Most people, if asked a few questions about exactly WHY they want a bigger house, better car, nicer partner or more money, will end up responding with “because it will make me happy”

Understand that around 60% of the world’s population live on $1 a day. For them, having $5 in the bank would make them very happy. If you lived in a mud hut in Africa or under a single sheet of tin in India, a single room with clean running water may make you deliriously happy… well, at least, up to a point.

There comes a point where $5 is not enough, and often, even those with millions of dollars are still seeking “bigger, better, more”. Why is this?

The set-point of happiness is where you place it; and it moves as you do. 

Most of us place the happiness set-point just outside of our reach. Those with $1 want $5, those with $10 000 want $20 000, those with a 4-bedroom house want a 7-bedroom house and the bloke with a BMW wants a Ferrari.

Understand that the happiness point is where YOU place it. 

The happiness set-point was created by YOU. When you get this, when you *really* get this, you can finally take control over your life, control your destiny and stop being lead around by TV, radio, media, flashy ads or signs. You can break the grip of marketing, salespeople, consumerism, bosses or other people who are telling you what you need to do to finally “get happy” and get to the next step.

(There was a time when you thought the iPhone 3 would make you happy, right? And where is it now?)

Your happiness set-point is where you set it. 

What would happen if you could make your happiness set point 10% less?

Could you really be happy with less money? Billions are happy with $1/day. Could you be happy with a smaller house? Millions are happy living in far less than what you enjoy. Could you be happy with a partner, car or computer that was not the latest and greatest, but still performed reasonably well?

At this point, you may be saying, “Well, yeah, I *could* be happy with less, but would I be *really* happy?”

The answer is: YES. Yes, you can be really happy. You can if you think you can.

Yes, you can be happy with anything. All you have to do is to move your set-point.

JB and Buddha on the beach

At this point you may be wondering “Is it worth it?” or “How do I move my set-point?”

The answer to those questions are “yes” and “practice”.

The reason why “money can’t buy you happiness” is such a cliche is because it has been found to be true by millions of people over thousands of years. It is true that money does not bring happiness, however, the flipside may be true:

Happiness can bring you money.

Consider the number of times you have walked into a store, restaurant or cafe and the person serving you is lazy, rude, or merely disinterested in helping you. People who have no love for their work generally rise to the level of their mediocrity and stay there, earning “just enough” and reaping very little financial rewards.

The other side of the coin is those rare moments where you receive outstanding service from someone who is happy, helpful and loves to serve. I have received amazing service from people in retail, hospitality and other areas, and when these people truly amaze me with their service, I will often send a Thank You letter or email to their boss.

On more than one occasion, I have returned later to the same business and asked the whereabouts of the person who inspired my letter, and been told, “Oh, s/he got a promotion and moved to XYZ”

If you are outstanding, you are going to Stand Out

When you love what you do, or where you are, or who you are with; when you are happy already, more opportunities will flow to you. This can result in more friends, connections, and yes, even more money. Money may not buy you happiness, but happiness can bring many rewards, and yes, happiness can bring you money as well.

You are in control of your happiness. It is an inside job. You can control your life.

All you may need is a little SHIFT.

Contact us for free audio meditations on happiness and business, which you can listen to on your phone or PC,

Please subscribe to this blog, and do connect with me for more wit & wisdom at



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Happiness is good for business

  • Happiness is good for business.
  • Happiness is 90% NOT related to money, sex or IQ. 

JB meditation sunrise & ships -- Sun&Soul Photos

It’s official: happiness is good for your career, and your career can make you happy.

In today’s business world, driven by competitive advantage, success and wealth, happiness can easily be relegated to a wishful aspiration. But as we look for ways to succeed, one psychologist believes the ancient goal of happiness can bring us not only personal well-being but career prosperity.

Dr Martyn Newman, consulting psychologist for Randstad, says three decades of research has established clear links between specific emotional skills and our health, wealth and well-being.

“We have found high levels of emotional capital lead to increased productivity, and as many studies show, happy people are more creative, solve problems better and more quickly, live longer and enjoy high levels of leadership influence. When people feel better they perform better.”

But how can we feel happier more of the time? Three big findings have emerged from research into happiness and they may surprise you.

1. It’s not all about your environment

Outward conditions such as financial wealth, high IQ or being in a committed relationship account for no more than 10 to 15 percent of the factors that contribute to satisfaction.

2. It’s not all in your genes

Although there is some level of genetic predisposition for happiness, our future life satisfaction is not set in stone. Genes influence such traits as having a positive, easygoing personality; dealing well with stress; and feeling low levels of anxiety and depression.

However, a systematic study of 4000 sets of twins concluded that only about half of life satisfaction comes from genetic programming.

“This means that half of our future happiness rests in our own hands,” says Dr Newman, author of Emotional Capitalists – The New Leaders (John Wiley) and the Emotional Capital Inventory – the first scientifically designed tool for measuring emotional intelligence and leadership.

“We are neither at the mercy of our moods nor our environment, but rather our emotional well-being is more in our control that we ever imagined,” he says.

3. We can control our happiness!

The way we live and think, how we perceive life’s events, and how we react to them can exert considerable influence on our happiness. “We can take the edge off negative feelings by directly awakening positive feelings.

We often have more freedom than we realise to improve our perception of a situation – even when we can’t directly change the situation itself.”

Another surprising discovery from brain research is that the adult brain continues to develop and change.

“These changes are triggered by thoughts, but even more by emotions,” says Newman. Just as we can learn a new sports skill, we can train our natural aptitude for positive feelings and increase our capacity for emotional wealth.

Using optimism as a strategy can also be an effective way of dealing with difficulties and sensing opportunities. If we give in to negative emotions like disappointment or sadness, we not only fail to ease them, but we actually reinforce them.

“Repeated emotions like joy or sadness act like drops of water on a rock. Each one evaporates quickly, but over time many drops carve out a channel. Fortunately, it is not only negative emotions that can become entrenched with regular use – optimism, too, can become a habit.”

Loving what you do is a necessary condition to maintaining your emotional well-being, according to Newman.

Passionate people spend twice as much time thinking about what they’ve accomplished, how achievable the task ahead is, and how capable they are of achieving it.

The most fundamental finding from the science of happiness is that almost everyone feels happier when they’re with other people, especially when they are contributing to others.

“Practicing kindness, compassion and other virtues lifts your stocks of emotional capital. Giving makes you feel good about yourself and it creates meaning in your life,” says Newman.

4. Happiness makes you more effective and enables peace of mind.

When your mind is peaceful your mood lifts, you take in information effectively and your mind becomes agile and creative. A consistently positive mood also enables you to foster positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need – the perfect recipe for business success.



Source: why happiness is good for business 

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