Are you prepared to approach the information, suggestions, and exercises in this article with an open mind? Is it possible you'll benefit from trying the strategies to help you manage anxiety? In your notearticle, write down your answers to these questions: What would you like to tell yourself about paying closer attention to your use of anxious fictions? What's the value of doing this? What do you think you'll learn? What's the best thing that could happen? The worst? The most likely? In reacting to an attack, our military tries to mount a response that is proportional to the threat. Such a proportional response insures that, on the one hand, resources will not be wasted by overreacting and, on the other hand, that the reaction will be strong enough to get the job done. The immune system is also set up to provide a proportional response to microbial invasions. For example, the number of macrophages engaged in battle depends on the size of the attack and the amount of chemicals given off by macrophages to summon neutrophils or activate NK cells depends on how many macrophages are fighting. Consequently, the more serious the invasion, the more macrophages will be involved, and the more neutrophils and NK cells will be mobilized. Likewise, the larger a bacterial invasion is, the more "danger molecules" such as LPS will be present at the battle scene. And the more LPS there is, the more NK cells will be activated to produce battle cytokines such as IFN-g - which help activate macrophages. Because the magnitude of the immune response is directly linked to the seriousness of the attack, "the punishment usually fits the crime." Complement proteins participate in the construction of membrane attack complexes that can puncture and destroy some bacteria and viruses. Complement proteins can also tag pathogens for ingestion by professional phagocytes, and can act as chemoattractants to recruit phagocytic cells to the battle site. Complement proteins are present in high concentrations in the blood and in the tissues, so they are always ready to go. This is one of the most important features of the complement system: It works really fast. However, for the complement system to spring into action, it must first be activated.

Activation by the alternative (spontaneous) pathway simply requires that a complement protein fragment, C3b, bind to an amino or hydroxyl group on an invader. Because these chemical groups are ubiquitous, the default option in this system is death: Any surface that is not protected against binding by complement fragments will be targeted for destruction. Fortunately, there are multiple mechanisms which protect human cells from complement attack. In addition to the alternative activation pathway, which can be visualized as grenades going off randomly here and there, there is a second pathway for activating the complement system that is more directed: the lectin activation pathway. Here, a protein called mannose-binding lectin acts as a "guidance system" which targets the complement "bombs" to invaders that have distinctive carbohydrate molecules on their surfaces. Macrophages and neutrophils are professional phagocytes. Long-lived macrophages reside beneath the surface of all the parts of our body that are exposed to the outside world. There these phagocytic cells act as sentinels. Most of the time, macrophages just eat dead cells and debris. However, if they find an invader, they become activated. In this activated state, they can present antigens to T cells, they can send out signals that recruit other immune system cells to help in the struggle, and they can become vicious killers. Although I was nowhere near rock bottom, I couldn't help but feel the same sense of defeat. I was sitting at the halfway mark of the trek up Mt. Weight Loss. I had found a comfortable ledge to rest and make camp--and I didn't even know it. Scotland was the trail that I was able to coast along. It wasn't too steep but still required some effort on my part. And I was able to maintain a steady pace and make some headway. Now I was sitting on the ledge right before the steepest part of the climb, the part that requires you to grit your teeth and put on your big-girl boots and get to work. The part where a hike turns into rock climbing, I was almost there.

I just needed to pack up camp first. Christmas was approaching. I was excited to spend a whole month home with my family and enjoy a much-needed break from school. My mom asked me what I wanted from "Santa" and I wasn't sure. If Santa could bring me a scale that said something other than 188, that would be great! But something was lingering in my mind. Late one night I had seen an infomercial on TV promoting a super-intense workout program. The program was designed to deliver amazing results in sixty days, complete with different daily in-home workouts and an easy-to-follow nutrition guide. That's what I wanted from Santa. And Santa did not disappoint. Along with the new workout program, I also received some new exercise clothes and fitness accessories. I was so ready and determined to crush my goals! I was determined to break up with 188 once and for all! By this point I had been at 188 pounds for seven months. My family and I sat in the living room talking and admiring all the gifts. My mom asked me when I was going to start my new program. I talked nervously about how the nutrition guide seemed different and how I was excited and nervous at the same time. The guide would require me to get creative on making vegan swaps, but it was doable. My mom and I sat down at the kitchen table and looked through the nutrition guide. We talked about the new recipes we could make and what groceries we would need to buy.

My mom seemed more excited than me and went online to purchase the workout program for herself too! We both agreed we would start after New Year's. It would be our resolution to complete the program. My dad sat on the couch rolling his eyes; he knew anytime my mom got excited about something, he would be "encouraged" (in his words, "forced") to be excited about it too. The program details made the workouts seem so hard-core. I was ready for this challenge! I was ready to release my inner fitness girl . if I even had one to release. I wasn't 100 percent sure yet. But what I did know was that I was ready to not weigh 188 pounds and I was ready to keep climbing up Mt. Weight Loss. I was tired of camping and ready to get back on the trail. New Year's came and went, and within a few days I was back at school. I eagerly told Brea about the new program I had received and encouraged her to do it with me. She wasn't too thrilled but agreed to participate if her schedule allowed. I hung up the workout schedule on my bedroom wall and headed to the grocery store in town to purchase all the food I would need to set myself up for success. Brea and I were such nerds, grocery store runs were a favorite pastime and we'd routinely end up purchasing clothes and other things we absolutely did not need. But that's what happens when the best grocery store in town is also a superstore that stocks everything from lawn mowers to apparel. Makes whatever we accomplish seem all the more admirable. It's striking: These are perfectly fine starting points, better, in some cases, than whatever you'd have hoped for in the best scenario.

What advantage do you derive from someone being polite? Or pulling their punches? Behind the behaviors that provoke an immediate negative reaction is opportunity--some exposed benefit that we can seize mentally and then act upon. So focus on that--on the poorly wrapped and initially repulsive present you've been handed in every seemingly disadvantageous situation. Because beneath the packaging is what we need--often something of real value. A gift of great benefit. No one is talking glass-half-full-style platitudes here. This must be a complete flip. Seeing through the negative, past its underside, and into its corollary: the positive. A significant chunk of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations is made up of short quotes and passages from other writers. This is because Marcus wasn't necessarily trying to produce an original work--instead he was practicing, reminding himself here and there of important lessons, and sometimes these lessons were things he had read. This particular quote is special because it comes from a play by Euripides, which, except for a handful of quoted fragments like this, is lost to us. From what we can gather about the play, Bellerophon, the hero, comes to doubt the existence of the gods. But in this line, he is saying: Why bother getting mad at causes and forces far bigger than us? Why do we take these things personally? After all, external events are not sentient beings--they cannot respond to our shouts and cries--and neither can the mostly indifferent gods. That's what Marcus was reminding himself of here: circumstances are incapable of considering or caring for your feelings, your anxiety, or your excitement. They don't care about your reaction. They are not people. So stop acting like getting worked up is having an impact on a given situation.