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It taps you into a whole new dimension of sensation, and you feel like a blind man whose sight has been restored. Every action you perform is made up of separate components. The simple action of tying your shoelaces is made up of a complex series of subtle motions. Most of these details go unobserved. In order to promote the overall habit of mindfulness, you can perform simple activities at very low speed--making an effort to pay full attention to every nuance of the act. Sitting at a table and drinking a cup of tea is one example. There is much here to be experienced. View your posture as you are sitting, and feel the handle of the cup between your fingers. Smell the aroma of the tea, notice the placement of the cup, the tea, your arm, and the table. Watch the intention to raise your arm arise within your mind, feel your arm as it rises, feel the cup against your lip and liquid pouring into your mouth. Taste the tea, then watch the arising of the intention to lower your arm. The entire process is fascinating and beautiful, if you attend to it fully, paying detached attention to every sensation and to the flow of thought and emotion. This same tactic can be applied to many of your daily activities. Intentionally slowing down your thoughts, words, and movements allows you to penetrate far more deeply into them than you otherwise could. What you find there is utterly astonishing. In the beginning, it is very difficult to keep this deliberately slow pace during most regular activities, but skill grows with time. Profound realizations occur during sitting meditation, but also profound revelations can take place when we really examine our own inner workings in the midst of day-to-day activities. This is the laboratory where we really start to see the mechanisms of our own emotions and the operations of our passions. Here is where we can truly gauge the reliability of our reasoning and glimpse the difference between our true motives and that armor of pretense that we wear to fool ourselves and others. Get at least seven and a half hours of sleep a night.

This not only will help you feel rested and less stressed; sleep reduces inflammation so the body can function at its best. If you decide to follow the protocol for yourself, in addition to helping your body get rid of built-up toxins, this plan will also eliminate foods--gluten, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, and sugar--that are common causes of food sensitivities and inflammation in the body. What this means is that, after following this protocol for three weeks, you are in the perfect position to slowly reintroduce common problem foods back into your diet, paying close attention to any reactions you may be having. Pick one of the foods that was eliminated--bread, for example--and eat it twice a day for two days. Keep a journal and write down any differences you notice in your body, energy, or mood. Do you feel more depressed? Have headaches or joint pain? Feel bloated or fatigued? Are you experiencing brain fog or trouble concentrating? If your body responds negatively to that food, remove it again from your diet. Wait a few days, then reintroduce a different food and pay attention to how your body responds. Whether you have gluten sensitivities or not, when it comes to managing your mood, clean eating is going to make a major difference. All the knowledge in the world about ridding your body of debilitating toxins and poisons won't do you a bit of good unless you begin today taking control of what you put in your body. Here are five things you can start doing right away: Decrease the amount of pesticides you ingest by buying organic fruits and vegetables or by choosing produce from the "Clean Fifteen." Even making the healthy choice to eat more fruits and vegetables can expose us to pesticides and herbicides. The EWG has identified twelve fruits and vegetables that are consistently the most contaminated, as well as fifteen consistently clean fruits and vegetables. Simply choosing fruits and vegetables that test lower in dangerous chemicals can drastically reduce exposure to pesticides. Here are the "Dirty Dozen" to avoid if you are unable to buy organic (eating nonorganic produce from this list will expose a person to an average of about fifteen pesticides a day): peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, tomatoes, and potatoes. Here are the Clean Fifteen to enjoy (eating nonorganic produce from this list will expose a person to an average of about two pesticides a day): avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower, and broccoli. Reference Past Jokes for Greater Impact - Inside jokes are a great way to build rapport. You can create in-jokes easily by referencing a joke you made earlier in a conversation.

Here's another example from one of my nights out. A friend showed up wearing this hilariously garish purple leopard striped t-shirt. My comment: "Look guys, Barney mated with a snow leopard." Nothing too deep there - an easy joke. But, later that night, when my buddy got turned down by a woman he was falling over himself to meet, I made a joke about Barney getting free hugs and cheered him right up. Cultural Jokes and Pop Culture References - An easy way to be funny is with cultural jokes and pop culture references. Most people are at least partially caught up on the latest celebrity gossip, TV show references, or movie trivia. If you make a joke about Brad and Angelina, most people will get the reference. These jokes are tricky - you need to know your audience and create something interesting and funny (not just rehashing Tonight Show jokes). Everyone has a different sense of humour and unfortunately they don't carry plaques attached to their heads that says "I'm sarcastic" or "I'm a little dry". So, you'll need to feel them out a bit when you first start talking. This will take some practice to get the hang of, but you'll quickly learn to make the most of the material you've developed. Now you know what types of things work as humour, but what about the actual content of what you say? What can you talk about that will lead to chuckles and head nods from the people you meet? Here are a few of my favourite funny options for this kind of situation. When something happens that no one expects, people tend to laugh. This is a common theme in British humour - Monty Python, for example. Just watch as John Cleese and his buddies go from throwing fish around to fighting over the weight of a coconut in one of their films or television specials. Half of what happens makes no sense and nothing can be predicted. I won't ruin it for anyone who hasn't already seen it to say that the ending of Monty Python and Holy Grail fits the bill perfectly - it's out of left field and therefore it's hilarious. So how do you tap the unexpected to be entertaining to your new friends or a potential boyfriend?

You can make the unexpected happen, or you can simply make observations about things that happen that no one expects. Reality seems pretty dull at times, but you'd be surprised how often something happens without any context or warning that could be a perfectly funny joke. A man wearing a tutu, a dog running on his hind legs, a two year old with wraparound sunglasses - they're silly, strange, and if you have a good quip ready, very funny. So how can we alleviate the problems of groupthink? One of the best ways is for group leaders to explicitly encourage dissenting viewpoints. A leader might even appoint a group member to be the devil's advocate and make it clear that their comments should be seriously considered. Leaders should not state their position at the outset. Following this recommendation, Japanese firms have the lowest-ranking executives at a meeting state their opinions first, so a subordinate doesn't have to worry about dissenting from a superior's opinion. Another group can be set up to investigate the same issue, and the two conclusions compared, or outside experts can be brought in and encouraged to challenge the consensus view.28 Without such measures, our natural tendency to conform will become exacerbated when we're in a closely knit group. What if your friend came up to you one day and said, "Can I get your opinion on something? My doctor just told me I have a severe heart problem, and if I don't get an operation, I'll have to quit my career, change my diet, and give up most of my favorite sports. What do you think--should I get the operation?" If successful, the operation would correct his heart condition. But success is not guaranteed, and the operation may actually prove fatal. What if the doctor said that the chance of success was 90 percent? What if it was 80 percent, 70 percent, 60 percent, or 50 percent? What's the lowest probability that you would accept and still recommend the operation? Let's assume that you're a risk taker and you said 60 percent. Do you think your decision would change if you were in a group with other risk takers? Research suggests that it would. If you're in a group with other like-minded individuals, the group's final decision will likely be more extreme than the members' individual judgments.

If you're discussing the issue with other risk takers, the group's decision may be to accept a 50 percent, or even a 40 percent, chance of success. In effect, polarization will occur--the group's discussion will amplify the existing inclinations of the group members. For example, one study had people first respond individually to twelve hypothetical risk scenarios like the one presented above.30 They were then put in groups of about five members and asked to arrive at a consensus judgment. Group discussion often led to greater risk taking when the members were riskier individuals, and more caution when the members were cautious. Highly prejudiced students have also been found to be more prejudiced after discussing racial issues with each other, while less prejudiced students became even less prejudiced after talking with one another.31 Mock juries were more lenient after group discussion when given weak incriminating evidence, and more harsh after discussing strong evidence. Thus, initial positions become polarized by group discussion. The idea of group polarization is surprising to many because we think that group discussion will moderate extreme views. This will happen when two powerful factions argue pro and con. However, if there's an initial leaning one way or the other by a majority of members, the group's judgment will likely lean even more strongly in that direction. Why? Arguments in favor of that view tend to get more consideration, and an individual's responsibility for the decision is diffused. One just has to consider mob lynchings to appreciate the disastrous consequences of group polarization. We will find a great deal of this information surprising, much of it disturbing, but all of it useful. Bare attention brings order into the clutter that collects in those untidy little hidden corners of the mind. As you achieve clear comprehension in the midst of life's ordinary activities, you gain the ability to remain rational and peaceful while you throw the penetrating light of mindfulness into those irrational mental nooks and crannies. You start to see the extent to which you are responsible for your own mental suffering. You see your own miseries, fears, and tensions as self-generated. You see the way you cause your own suffering, weakness, and limitations. And the more deeply you understand these mental processes, the less hold they have on you. In seated meditation, our primary focus is the breath.