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The intensity depends on how much effort you are putting into it. To estimate the intensity of your physical activity, use the Talking Test. If you are able to talk while exercising, that is a moderate activity. If you are out of breath, that is a vigorous activity. Or you could count your heart rate during exercise to determine whether you are exercising at a moderate or vigorous intensity. Do this by placing two fingers on the side of your neck or on the inside of your wrist and count the beats for one minute. Take this number and compare it to the percentage of your target heart rate. Suppose you see an ad in the Wall Street Journal touting the performance of the "Super-growth" mutual fund. "This fund has earned more than the average of all other funds over the past five years!" the ad proclaims. A photo of its big-name manager is also prominently displayed, leading you to believe that the fund's earnings are directly related to the manager's stock-picking prowess. Sounds convincing, but does that performance demonstrate superior knowledge of the stock market? Should you invest in the fund? Before deciding, you have to ask yourself, Could this superior performance be due to just chance? If you flip a coin five times, it will sometimes come up heads five times in a row simply due to chance. As we'll see later, the evidence suggests that the long-term performance of mutual funds is similar to flipping a coin. Thus, the so-called experts typically don't achieve superior returns over the long run. In fact, it may be prudent not to invest in a fund that has outperformed the average recently because it will likely drop in the future due to a phenomenon called regression to the mean. Why are we so quick to believe that superior knowledge led to the fund's above average performance? We generally don't appreciate the role that chance and coincidence play in our lives. While chance affects many aspects of our world, we don't like to think that things happen by chance.

Instead, we want to believe that things happen for a reason. We are causal-seeking animals--we have an ingrained desire to find cause and effect relationships in the world. This desire to look for causes likely arose because of our evolutionary development. Our early ancestors who discovered the causes for things survived and passed on their genes; for example, those who noticed that a spark starts a fire began using fire and were more likely to survive. This preference to seek out causes usually serves us well. The problem is, the tendency is so central to our cognitive makeup and thought processes that we overapply it. We start seeing causes for things that are simply the result of chance occurrences. I have also encountered countless ordinary people who labeled themselves as "patients," not because they were sick or deformed, but because they received huge payoffs by living to that label. Calling themselves patients gave them an identity. Whether their disorders were real or imagined, whether they had legitimate disorders or were total hypochondriacs, it was a badge of how they wanted to be treated and how they wanted to treat themselves, giving definition to what they should do or should not do. They felt that by being "sick," they acquired the "honor" of being a patient, the same kind of honor that a wounded soldier might get on his return from a war. To the extent that their label got them that honor, they had no incentive to get out of bed. I used to marvel at how so many of my patients would take pride in their injuries or diseases. They would actually brag to one another about how sick or hurt they were. Their appointments became their reason for living. Once productive members of society, they were, by living to their labels, reduced to nonproductive parasites on society. They would hang around the hospital and compare notes but never plans to return to productive roles. Their implied message was, "I'm a patient, so respect the label, rather than me. I am weak and limited in what I can do for myself or for others. Feel pity for me and give me respect, but do not expect anything from me." For many people labels, such as "patient" or "student," give the payoff of having a socially sanctioned "timeout" from the performance demands of the world.

How could anyone expect someone to get up and go to work if, after all, they are sick and participating in some program of treatment? Very convenient if you're just plain lazy, don't you think? Problem is, once again it is totally fictional and living to that label completely ignores the authentic self and all the skills and abilities that are buried there. For some people, holding onto a label simply offers that security of an identity. If you've got a label, then you are at least "something." Hey, everybody wants to be somebody, right? But what if you are so very much more than the label allows? Just as with Beth Ann, these everyday situations and labels can be very confining. It's relatively easy to introspect and observe your mind, but it is extremely difficult to remain unidentified with that little voice of yours. If I ask you to take a minute to pay attention to your mind right now---passively, remaining unattached, yet very attentive---then you may see that you can do it for a short while. But how long can you remain in this extra-attentive state? This will show you that you are never truly awake during the day, because the majority of your time is spent being inattentive. You can see from this how things can "just happen" in your life without a clear cause. If you are inattentive, it's easy not to do anything. If you make a strong, determined resolution to do something but soon become inattentive, and situations and events ensue, then you may rationalize why things did not work out the way you expected them to. There is a place in your resting or meditative consciousness that gives you a reprise from the mental chatter. In such a state, you are free from expectations and earthly concerns. You are in the here and now, in solitude and feelings of peacefulness. The Dalai Lama once said, "I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path." If you are able to remain unidentified or detached (from the mental censor), then switch your awareness to your body and all the subtle, nonverbal communication that it gives you. This is intelligence that does not function from memory, and therefore it has no expectations that are burdened by the weight of the past or anxious about the future. The resting consciousness is centered in the here and now.

This is where you can find life's freedom, creativity, and an innate intelligence that can give your life a fresh direction. So we need to make a schedule, but where do we begin? The common approach is to make a to-do list. We write down all the things we want to do and hope we'll find the time throughout the day to do them. Unfortunately, this method has some serious flaws. Anyone who has tried keeping such a list knows many tasks tend to get pushed from one day to the next, and the next. Instead of starting with what we're going to do, we should begin with why we're going to do it. And to do that, we must begin with our values. According to Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, values are "how we want to be, what we want to stand for, and how we want to relate to the world around us." They are attributes of the person we want to be. For example, they may include being an honest person, being a loving parent, or being a valued part of a team. We never achieve our values any more than finishing a painting would let us achieve being creative. A value is like a guiding star; it's the fixed point we use to help us navigate our life choices. Though some values carry over into all facets of life, most are specific to one area. For example, being a contributing member of a team is something people generally do at work. Being a loving spouse or parent occurs within the context of a family. Being the kind of person who seeks wisdom or physical fitness is something we do for ourselves. As you keep up your exercise program, your strength, endurance, and energy level will improve. The more you do, the stronger you will become, and the more likely you are to do the activity. Tracking your progress is a good way to monitor your activities, adjust your exercise as you improve, and keep up your motivation. One way to do this is to record the type and duration of your physical activities in a weekly agenda or exercise log.

Another way is to use the USDA's online tool, Super Tracker (, which offers a way to track your exercise and your calories over time. Routine and consistency in daily life help make your life more manageable and in control. It is thought that small changes in one's daily routine place stress on the body's ability to maintain stability, and that those with mood disorders have a more difficult time adapting to these changes in routine. Paying close attention to daily routines, and to the positive and negative events that influence those routines and cause you stress, increases your stability. This is the basis of social rhythm therapy, a treatment for bipolar disorder, which has some benefit to mood disorders in general. Many people with depression have a difficult time going about their daily activities. However, endless hours of empty time alone will only worsen your symptoms. So it is essential to maintain a regular routine and structure to each day, even when you don't feel like it. Schedule your time and try to follow that schedule, but also be flexible with yourself. Keep your schedule in an agenda or appointment book that you carry with you. Having a daily structure and following a routine will also help you better manage the lack of interest and decreased energy that often comes with depression. We like to think that we perceive the world as it actually is. How many times have we heard someone say, "I know what I saw." However, our senses can be deceived. Sometimes the problem is selective perception, where we don't see certain things because our focus is elsewhere. In other cases, we can actually see things that aren't there. Remember my ghostly encounter? Well, studies show that a significant number of us have hallucinated at some point in our lives. Of course, problems are likely to arise when we use these inaccurate perceptions in our thinking. Two factors have a particularly important effect on how we perceive the world: our expectations and our desires. That is, our perceptions are greatly influenced by what we expect to see and what we want to see.