There is no need for a sense of self. There is only the sweep of tactile and kinesthetic sensation, an endless and ever-changing flood of raw experience. We are learning here to escape into reality, rather than from it. Whatever insights we gain are directly applicable to the rest of our notion-filled lives. The point is, if your diet is creating neurotoxicity, inflammation, or other potentially dangerous reactions in your body, it's no wonder you are depressed. Furthermore, it is time to make a change. You can regain control of your life, your moods, and your health--and it starts one bite at a time. Rarely a day goes by that we don't hear or read something about the importance of clean eating. And there's a great reason for that! Ridding your diet of pollutants and poisons is a foundational part of improving your mood and your health. The body has multiple organs and systems--the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, lungs, and skin--that work together to filter and flush toxins out of your body. Unfortunately, these organs and systems can become overwhelmed by the large amounts of toxins in our diets and environment encountered each day. To make matters worse, unless we are very intentional about diet and lifestyle, there's a good chance we're not supporting these organs and systems with the nutrition and activities they need to stay in tip-top shape. When we see a new client who is struggling with depression, I often recommend a three-week protocol designed to cleanse and detox the body. The protocol incorporates detox agents, dietary changes, and actions that support the body in performing at maximum capacity--eliminating problem-causing toxins that are affecting health and mood. Here is the protocol that I recommend. Eliminate all alcohol, soda, energy drinks, coffee, and juices or teas with added sugar. Avoid all candy and other sweets. Drink two cups or more of fresh-pressed vegetable juice every day. Limit animal products; eat no more than six ounces of animal flesh a day.

Avoid all dairy products except for butter. Focus on whole foods (whatever you can buy in the produce section). Drink at least two liters of water a day. Dry skin brushing, which involves brushing your skin with a soft brush prior to a bath or shower. This provides gentle exfoliation, boosts circulation, and encourages new cell growth. Spend time in a sauna, then follow up with a cold rinse for ninety seconds or less. (I recommend choosing this at least three times a week.) Exercise for at least twenty to thirty minutes at a time. Exercise boosts circulation through the body, which helps flush toxins out. As if it's any surprise, a big part of being likable is being funny. People with a good sense of humour and a clever way with words are generally more popular. How do you tap the infinite power of humour and put yourself out there as the ultimate likable person? It starts with understanding what other people actually find funny. You'd be shocked how many people think they are funny only to find out that they come across as rude, obnoxious and generally annoying. Of course, defining humour is kind of conceited - everyone has a different view on what is funny and how to tap into that powerful torrent of laugh lines and clever insights. So, I won't get scientific on you here; rather let's just focus on what I've done and have seen work in the past, and how you can start generating a personality that other people find endearing and funny. Everyone wants to laugh--so, the more humor you bring into your life, the better ability you'll have to bring the masses to you! Don't Take Anything too Seriously - The easiest way to ruin a humorous conversation is to take any single thing too seriously. Stay loose, don't get upset by anything unless you're sure someone is trying to poke at you, and just generally stay relaxed. Avoid Sombre Topics - Some topics just aren't funny. Stay away from the story of how your cat got hit by a car in high school or how your little brother has the Measles.

It just doesn't work when you're trying to be funny. On the flip side, it's possible to take some topics that are otherwise sombre and make them funny. For example, I was in a bar once and found out my wallet had been stolen between the cab and the bar. I was very upset, but rather than letting it ruin my evening, I made a couple of jokes about the thief getting a free sandwich from Quizno's for his trouble. It broke the tension, helped me and my friends relax and allowed me to continue enjoying the night (once I'd called in my stolen credit cards and ID). Make Casual Observations Interesting - If you see someone walk into a room with a barber pole striped cane or a child wearing a giant pair of sunglasses, you have free material. Remember not to make fun of anyone and don't make comments about stereotypes or prejudices, but common observations about other people in a fun loving way can be hilarious when done properly. Jokes Are Good - Energy is Better - A formal joke can be funny, but really it's about the delivery. Just reciting a joke doesn't always work. I'm sure you've had a friend try to remember a joke and completely kill its delivery, leading to polite laughter from one and all. If you can maintain an energetic attitude and build on whatever you feel about a certain joke, I guarantee the actual content matters far less than how you deliver it. So far we've seen how others can affect our beliefs and decisions. In all those cases, however, we still had to make our own individual judgment. What about group decision making? There are many situations where we're part of a group, and instead of making an individual decision, the group has to arrive at an overall judgment. What effect can group dynamics have on the final judgment reached? You know the old saying, "Two heads are better than one." But wait a minute, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." So which is it? As might be expected, groups can make more accurate decisions than individuals in some cases, but they can also exacerbate problems, which can lead to disastrous results. When tightly cohesive groups are relatively isolated from outside dissenting viewpoints, they can fall prey to what psychologist Irving Janis called groupthink. As he states, groupthink is the "deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures."22 It's more likely to happen when groups are highly cohesive, the group members know and like each other, they are insulated from others because of the need for secrecy or some other reason, and they have a strong leader who states his or her opinion up front.

The pressure to conform in such a group can be intense, and if a group leader gives his views up front, the result can be a bunch of yes-men chiming in agreement with little or no dissent. These types of groups usually exhibit an illusion of invulnerability which can lead to overoptimism and excessive risk taking. They also tend to believe in their own inherent morality, and, at the same time, stereotype their adversaries as evil, weak, or stupid.23 Groupthink can be seen in a number of disastrous decisions. For example, Albert Speer, one of Hitler's top advisors, described Hitler's inner circle as one of total conformity. In such a situation, atrocious acts can be carried out because no one offers dissenting views. The Nixon "palace guards" during the Watergate cover-up perjured themselves, offered bribes, and committed other crimes even though they knew better (many were lawyers). Why? They were circling the wagons around the president, who squelched dissenting views. One of the most famous examples of groupthink was the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961. President Kennedy recommended the invasion of Cuba, which was quickly wiped out by Cuba's armed forces. The United States was humiliated, leading Kennedy to ponder, "How could I have been so stupid to let them go ahead?"24 NASA's decision to launch the Challenger in 1986 also suffered from groupthink. Their confidence was high from two dozen successful launches, and they had political and public pressures to launch. Even though data indicated that the O-rings could fail in low temperatures, and the launch date had near freezing temperatures, NASA officials, under pressure, didn't want to hear dissenting points of view.25 The same can be said for George W. Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq. Many Washington insiders and journalists maintain that the Bush White House is the most secretive, closed, and uniform-thinking White House in recent memory. In fact, John Dean, a central figure in the Watergate scandal, argues that the Bush White House penchant for secrecy is "worse than Watergate."26 When similar-thinking individuals insulate themselves from differing views, they're likely to take risky actions without adequately planning for other eventualities. The Bush team was convinced in the correctness of their beliefs--Bush actually told Bob Woodward that he does not "suffer doubt."27 With such an unquestioning acceptance of one's belief, it's no wonder they thought the Iraqi people would welcome the United States with open arms. As a result, they did not appropriately plan for the war's aftermath, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars. The goal of our practice is to become fully aware of all facets of our experience in an unbroken, moment-to-moment flow. Much of what we do and experience is completely unconscious in the sense that we do it with little or no attention.

Our minds are on something else entirely. We spend most of our time running on automatic pilot, lost in the fog of daydreams and preoccupations. One of the most frequently ignored aspects of our existence is our body. The technicolor cartoon show inside our head is so alluring that we tend to remove all of our attention from the kinesthetic and tactile senses. That information is pouring up the nerves and into the brain every second, but we have largely sealed it off from consciousness. It pours into the lower levels of the mind, and it gets no further. Buddhists have developed an exercise to open the floodgates and let this material through to consciousness. It's another way of making the unconscious conscious. Your body goes through all kinds of contortions in the course of a single day. You sit and you stand. You walk and lie down. You bend, run, crawl, and sprawl. Meditation teachers urge you to become aware of this constantly ongoing dance. As you go through your day, spend a few seconds every few minutes to check your posture. Don't do it in a judgmental way. This is not an exercise to correct your posture or to improve your appearance. Sweep your attention down through the body and feel how you are holding it. Make a silent mental note of "walking" or "sitting" or "lying down" or "standing." It all sounds absurdly simple, but don't slight this procedure. This is a powerful exercise. If you do it thoroughly, if you really instill this mental habit deeply, it can revolutionize your experience.