Human beings are social animals. We are born and hard wired to live in groups of between 50 and 100 people. Our memories are actually formed based on the number of people that tend to exist in an average person's social life. Why do you think you feel so much more creative at a coffee shop surrounded by perfect strangers, even with headphones in your ears? Or more energized after going on a date with someone you particularly like? It all comes down to neurological impact of social interaction - the release of dopamine that occurs when another human being gives you positive feedback, whether it is a laugh at your joke, a slap on the back or a request to spend more time together. Your body quite literally feeds on it and likeability makes it much more likely to occur. You want to be liked and your body will do what it can to make it happen. By understanding what those choices are and how they are made, you can develop a sixth sense about what does and does not work in presenting yourself to others. The idea being that, when you fully understand the way your presence affects others, you'll be able to tweak your actions to get the result you want. That may sound manipulative, but it doesn't have to be. Like any tool, it's all in how you use it. If you choose to go down the road of manipulation, yeah, likability can be a pretty powerful tool. But a big part of likability is having that power and not using it. I could go on forever about the benefits of being likable - but you already have a goal in mind. You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't. So, what I want to do now is tell you about a little secret - one of the most profound secrets that likable people everywhere hold over the quiet, dormouse guys and gals in society that just can't get any attention. Likability isn't forced. It's organic - which means three things. First, you have to feel the confidence inside that will make it happen.

Ever watch a woman walk into a bar and have men flock to her in droves? Or a man who can seemingly get a date with anyone? Yeah, they're likable, but beneath that likability is something more - a sense of self that transcends simple surface traits. They are sure of themselves and we are all intoxicated by that powerful sense of self. That's you - you have to be confident 100% of the time if you want to be even remotely successful in the dating world. Getz acknowledges that admitting you don't have all the answers is a great way to involve the kids in finding new solutions. "We're all figuring it out as we go along," she says. Getz wants her daughters to continue to ask themselves questions to self-monitor and self-regulate their behavior: "Is my behavior working for me? Am I proud of myself, in the way I'm behaving?" she asks them to ask themselves. "I work with a lot of teenagers who will often tell me that they don't want to be distracted, they don't want to be sucked into all this stuff, but they just don't know how to stop." To help children learn self-regulation, we must teach them how to make time for traction. We can encourage regular discussions about our values and theirs, and teach them how to set aside time to be the people they want to be. Keep in mind that while it's easy for us to think, "Kids have all the time in the world," it's important to remember they have their own priorities within each of their life domains. Working with our kids to create a values-based schedule can help them make time for their personal health and wellness domain, ensuring ample time for rest, hygiene, exercise, and proper nourishment. For example, while my wife and I don't enforce a strict bedtime for our daughter, we made it a point to expose her to research findings showing the importance of ample sleep during adolescent years. After she realized that sleep was important to her well-being, it didn't take much for her to conclude that screen time after 9 pm on a school night was a bad idea--a distraction from her value of staying healthy. As you guessed, she timeboxed periods of rest in her day. While she may occasionally find herself deviating from this evening appointment with her pillow, having it in her schedule provides her with a self-imposed guideline to self-monitor, self-regulate, and, ultimately, live out her values. When it comes to the "work" domain in kids' lives, for the typical American child, work is synonymous with school-related responsibilities and household chores. While school schedules provide a timetable for a child's daytime hours, how they spend their time after school can be a source of disagreement and frustration. Without a clear plan, many kids are left to make impulsive decisions that often involve digital distraction.

As we have seen, our senses can be fooled. We often see what we want or expect to see, and we can, at times, experience vivid hallucinations. Interestingly, the problems that arise in our perceptions can come from mechanisms that are often very useful to us in coping with the world. For example, seeing what we expect to see frequently serves a very useful purpose. For the most part, things occur as we expect. Cars generally stop at red lights and go on green, and so we've come to expect that they will continue to do so. If we didn't make this assumption, we would have to pay attention to every car as we go through an intersection. You can easily see how we would be overwhelmed with information if we had to attend to everything. Our expectations simplify our lives, and since what we expect to see or occur often happens, those expectations can be quite useful. However, if things don't happen as we expected them to, we can misperceive the world.44 Given our misperceptions, we can't always trust that our senses are giving us an accurate read of reality, which is a main reason why we can't rely on anecdotal evidence when evaluating the truth of a claim. Just because someone said they had an experience with a ghost or an alien, that doesn't provide reliable evidence for their existence. Ghost and alien sightings could be the result of fasting, emotional stress, drugs, hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations, or even problems in the ocular pathways. Remember, Occam's razor says we should accept the explanation with the fewest assumptions. We don't need to assume that ghosts or aliens are visiting the earth to explain people's personal experiences; human misperceptions can easily account for such reports. And yet, given our storyteller history, we continue to place considerable importance upon personal testimonials and stories. As psychologist Robert Abelson has said, our beliefs are like possessions.45 We buy our possessions because they have some use to us. So it is with our beliefs. We often hold beliefs not because of the evidence for those beliefs, but because they make us feel good. How can we overcome perceptual biases that lead to faulty beliefs? It's difficult, but a good place to start is by asking three questions: (1) Do you want this belief to be true?

(2) Do you expect this event to occur? and (3) Do you think you would perceive things differently without these wants and expectations?46 If the answer is yes to these questions, you should be very careful in how you interpret your perceptions of the world. We have evolved to be pattern-seeking animals. As we noted earlier, we come from ancestors who were constantly on the lookout for the causes of things. Of course, searching for relationships in the world is often beneficial because it can lead to new knowledge. Our built-in tendency to seek out causes is so great, however, that we start to see associations when none exist. We can thus come to believe that two things are related when, in fact, they are not. This especially occurs when we want or expect to see an association. Let's look at two cases where very intelligent people are making major financial and health decisions on the basis of erroneous associations. Don't dwell upon contrasts. Differences do exist between people, but dwelling upon them is a dangerous process. Unless carefully handled, this leads directly to egotism. Ordinary human thinking is full of greed, jealousy, and pride. A man seeing another man on the street may immediately think, "He is better looking than I am." The instant result is envy or shame. A girl seeing another girl may think, "I am prettier than she is." The instant result is pride. This sort of comparison is a mental habit, and it leads directly to ill feeling of one sort or another: greed, envy, pride, jealousy, or hatred. It is an unskillful mental state, but we do it all the time. We compare our looks with others, our success, accomplishments, wealth, possessions, or IQ, and all of this leads to the same state--estrangement, barriers between people, and ill feeling. The meditator's job is to cancel this unskillful habit by examining it thoroughly, and then replacing it with another. Rather than noticing the differences between oneself and others, the meditator trains him- or herself to notice the similarities.

She centers her attention on those factors that are universal to all life, things that will move her closer to others. Then her comparisons, if any, lead to feelings of kinship rather than of estrangement. Breathing is a universal process. All vertebrates breathe in essentially the same manner. All living things exchange gases with their environment in some way or other. This is one of the reasons that breathing has been chosen as a focus of meditation. The meditator is advised to explore the process of his or her own breathing as a vehicle for realizing our inherent connectedness with the rest of life. This does not mean that we shut our eyes to all the differences around us. Differences do exist. It means simply that we de-emphasize contrasts and emphasize the universal factors that we have in common. The recommended procedure is as follows: When we as meditators perceive any sensory object, we are not to dwell upon it in the ordinary egoistic way. We should rather examine the very process of perception itself. We should watch what that object does to our senses and our perception. We should watch the feelings that arise and the mental activities that follow. We should note the changes that occur in our own consciousness as a result. In watching all these phenomena, we must be aware of the universality of what we are seeing. The initial perception will spark pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feelings. That is a universal phenomenon, occurring in the minds of others just as it does in our own, and we should see that clearly. By following these feelings various reactions may arise. We may feel greed, lust, or jealousy.