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A phrase I often use to point out the five main mischief-makers in our culture's diet is "devitalized food." By this, I am talking about food that has had virtually every good or "vital" thing stripped or removed from it. You'll notice that most of the elements I mention above are white in color--white rice, white flour, white sugar: all processed, and all bad for you. And devitalized foods are the ones that are the most tempting: the quick burger and fries at the drive-thru as you rush home exhausted after a long day. Or those processed cookies on the grocery store shelf that taste so good as you relax in front of the TV at night. They are hard to resist. But if we are serious about conquering depression, we need to wage war on the worst dietary offenders. Yes, it may mean cooking after a long day when you don't feel like it. Or it may mean eating foods that don't have the same sweet-and-savory "zing" as those deep-fried foods that deliver empty calories and bad ingredients. Here's the insidious fact: when your energy levels are down from depression, these quick foods can be highly tempting and temporarily satisfying. Gulp down that sugary caffeine drink and--bam!--instant energy. You'll feel the jolt, all right . That is not a good strategy for combating depression. If you remember from the introduction of this book, I told you that people aren't born inherently likeable. It's a learned ability. But luckily, after you finish reading this book and by placing extra attention to this chapter, you'll become someone who HAS learned it--and learned it well! Anyone who is popular isn't just kind, fun to be around and confident. They aren't just unique in some way or another, or empathetic towards others. They actually are highly skilled at commanding a crowd--and gaining the attention and admiration of others. This section will dive into several techniques you can begin using today in order to achieve just that. One of the most important techniques you'll learn about in my program is what's known as the command principle.

The command principle is about having such an intense likeability that people hang on your every word. If you think about Oprah, what's the first word that comes into your mind? Rich? Charismatic? Intelligent? Captivating? If you agree with any of those words, well, you'd be right. She has the power to say anything--and no matter what she says, you'll hear the audience (or maybe yourself mutter), "Yep, totally right." Even if she's not saying something that's mind blowing, it's still blowing your mind. She practices the command principle to a `T', and in fact, she's mastered it. In fact, any great leader has and continues to do so. The command principle is about walking into any room boldly, pausing before you speak, and asserting yourself as an authoritarian. Here's how to nail it: Walk in assertively. This is a tried and true body language trick to convey confidence that you'll see every powerful, popular and success person do (no matter what their sex may be.) Command respect and admiration simply by walking as though your audience has been waiting their entire life to see you. Misattribution can have severe consequences in many aspects of life. Consider the case of Timothy Hennis, a sergeant in the US Army. Hennis was convicted of murdering three people in July 1986, even though he had an airtight alibi at the time that the murders were committed.26 Why was he convicted? An eyewitness positively identified Hennis as the man walking down the victims' driveway about 3:30 am on the night of the murders. Another eyewitness remembered seeing Hennis use a bank ATM around the same time that someone with one of the victim's stolen ATM card withdrew money from her bank account. There was a complete lack of physical evidence to convict Hennis--no fingerprints or hair samples matched him. In the opinion of the experts, the bloody footprints found in the house were made by a size 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 shoe, while Hennis wore a size 12.

There were no traces of blood on his clothing, and no physical evidence in his car. In fact, an expert told the jury that there wasn't one piece of evidence that tied Hennis to the crime scene. After two days of deliberation, the jury found Hennis guilty of murder and the judge sentenced him to death by lethal injection. The testimony of the two eyewitnesses sealed his fate. But did the eyewitnesses really see Hennis? Six months before the trial, one eyewitness admitted that he could have been mistaken in his identification. He even signed an affidavit to that effect. In fact, prior to seeing a photo lineup, he initially described the man as having brown hair, standing six feet tall, and weighing about 167 pounds. Hennis was blond, six-foot-four, and weighed 202 pounds. In addition, the other eyewitness initially told the police and lawyers that she didn't see anyone at the bank that day. Why were these two people so positive at the trial when they pointed their finger at Hennis and said that he was the one? Were they lying? Not necessarily. After months of television and newspaper coverage reporting that they may have seen the murderer, they could have reconstructed their memories. In fact, the eyewitness at the ATM machine may have seen someone who looked similar to Hennis at another time, and then misattributed that recollection to her ATM memory. And when this reconstructed memory was rehearsed for police, she began to accept it as fact.27 In a similar fashion, the other eyewitness likely felt pressure to remember something for the police and lawyers, and after months of rehearsing an initially fuzzy memory, he could have firmly believed he saw Hennis walking down the driveway. Timothy Hennis was fortunate enough to receive a new trial and was found innocent due to a lack of physical evidence. Interestingly, while waiting on death row, he received several anonymous notes, thanking him for taking the rap and doing the time. Mindfulness is the center of vipassana meditation and the key to the whole process. It is both the goal of this meditation and the means to that end.

You reach mindfulness by being ever more mindful. One other Pali word that is translated into English as mindfulness is appamada, which means non-negligence or absence of madness. One who attends constantly to what is really going on in the mind achieves the state of ultimate sanity. The Pali term sati also bears the connotation of remembering. It is not memory in the sense of ideas and pictures from the past, but rather clear, direct, wordless knowing of what is and what is not, of what is correct and what is incorrect, of what we are doing and how we should go about it. Mindfulness reminds meditators to apply their attention to the proper object at the proper time and to exert precisely the amount of energy needed to do that job. When this energy is properly applied, a meditator stays constantly in a state of calm and alertness. As long as this condition is maintained, those mind-states called "hindrances" or "psychic irritants" cannot arise--there is no greed, hatred, lust, or laziness. But we all are human and we all err. Most of us err repeatedly. Despite honest effort, meditators let their mindfulness slip now and then and find themselves stuck in some regrettable, but normal, human failure. It is mindfulness that notices that change. And it is mindfulness that reminds us to apply the energy required to pull ourselves out. These slips happen over and over, but their frequency decreases with practice. Once mindfulness has pushed these mental defilements aside, more wholesome states of mind can take their place. Hatred makes way for loving friendliness, lust is replaced by detachment. It is mindfulness that notices this change, too, and that reminds the vipassana meditator to maintain that extra little mental sharpness needed to retain these more desirable states of mind. Mindfulness makes possible the growth of wisdom and compassion. Without mindfulness they cannot develop to full maturity. Deeply buried in the mind, there lies a mechanism that accepts what the mind experiences as beautiful and pleasant and rejects those experiences that are perceived as ugly and painful.

This mechanism gives rise to those states of mind that we are training ourselves to avoid--things like greed, lust, hatred, aversion, and jealousy. We choose to avoid these hindrances, not because they are evil in the normal sense of the word, but because they are compulsive; because they take the mind over and capture the attention completely; because they keep going round and round in tight little circles of thought; and because they seal us off from living reality. The devitalized foods and drinks I refer to provide only fragmented nutrition, meaning they contain only a small amount of what your body needs. Right alongside fragmented foods (such as the "white foods" mentioned above) are their equally destructive cousins, the junk foods. Common ingredients in junk foods include additives, preservatives, pumped-up or masked sugars (sucrose, fructose, and so on), fats, salts, artificial colors, and food dyes. Like many things when it comes to human biology and physiology, everyone is different. While some people can drink a cup of coffee at 11:00 p.m. and fall right to sleep, others stay awake all night if they've had caffeine eight hours before bedtime. But there are general rules to follow and foods and beverages to avoid if you are struggling with depression. Here are the main types: Caffeine. Not only can caffeine be addictive, but once the thrill is gone, it might even exacerbate your depression by making you more anxious and nervous. Alcohol. This is a depressant, which means it reduces your brain's serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts as a mood stabilizer. Alcohol can also act as a stimulant and increase anxiety and stress. Additives. I want to highlight two particularly unhealthy additives that you will find in a surprising amount of foods and beverages: monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame. As touched on before, studies have shown that aspartame--a common artificial sweetener--can cause DNA damage, increase obesity, and contribute to depression symptoms. MSG, like aspartame, may also interfere with the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain, leading to depression. Processed foods. Stay away from processed foods as much as possible, including hot dogs, most deli meats (unless organic and fresh), and fried foods.