Want to Feel Better About Yourself? Try Washing your Hands

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Need to feel more optimistic or confident in your decisions? Try washing your hands.

A recent study performed by Dr. Kai Kasper, from Germany’s University of Cologne, reveals that people who cleaned their hands after attempting an impossible task were more confident that they would do better at completing the same task the next time around.

The same study also reveals that, although the clean hands test group felt more optimistic at completing the task the next time around, they were actually less likely to successfully complete it.

“While physical cleansing after failure may eliminate negative feelings,” explains Dr. Kasper, “it reduces the motivation to try harder in a new test situation.” Dr. Kasper’s study is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Either way you look at it, hand washing is physically and emotionally cleansing. And washing your hands immediately after making a difficult decision will help you feel more confident, optimistic, and comfortable with the decision you made.

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Feeling Angry or Irritated?

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If you’re outside and feeling angry, it might be because you forgot your sunglasses. Yes, squinting can make you angry.

“On the sunniest days, we squint; and squinting can make us angry,” explains Daniele Marzoli, PhD, a psychologist at Italy’s University of Chieti-Pescara.

The screwed-up expression we make when we squint is essentially a frown. Since mood and facial muscles are linked, the face signals to the brain that we’re irritated. The link between squinting and feeling irritated occurs almost instantly.

Luckily, there is a quick and easy fix to this mood changer: sunglasses.

So, to avoid feeling angry or irritated the next time you head outside, remember to wear your sunglasses.

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Lost Luggage May Soon Be a Thing of the Past

Hotel Chic & Basic Ramblas, Barcelona : the reception - So THAT'S where all the lost luggage goes!!

It is estimated that a whopping 26 million bags are lost each year. That being said, lost luggage may soon be a thing of the past—thanks to a new tracking system.

Some companies and airlines are developing a digital tag and tracking device that will eventually replace paper tags. This tracking system will allow travellers to easily locate lost luggage through the use of a smartphone app. It will also make the checking-in process quicker.

“Our aim is to take the stress out of travel and put you in control of your bag,” said David van Hoytema, a co-founder of FastTrack Company. Air France-KLM has joined forces with FastTrack to develop a tracking system that works through a smartphone app.

British Airlines, and Air France-KLM hope to have their systems in place by the end of the year.

For more information on this travelling tracking system, please visit The Luggage Tag with GPS.

Let’s do a little happy dance, shall we?

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Rewire Your Brain to Be Happy

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Are you feeling like you could be a happier person but optimism isn’t your strong point these days? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Research shows that you can actually rewire your brain to be happy by repeatedly recalling three things that you are grateful for.

“Training your brain to be positive is not so different from training your muscles at the gym,” says Shawn Achor, researcher and bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. “Recent research on neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to change even in adulthood—reveals that as you develop new habits, you rewire the brain.”

This research also shows that happiness leads to success. “People who cultivate a positive mindset perform better in the face of challenge,” states Achor.

For the next 21 days, think of three things you are grateful for before you fall asleep. Within three weeks, you’ll feel yourself shift into a positive mindset. Achor’s research reveals that people’s brains begin to “retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first,” making them happier which in turn makes them poised for success.

For more information on Shawn Achor’s happiness research, please visit Harvard Business Review.

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Stop! Don’t Hit the Snooze Button!

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If you’re like me, you probably hit the snooze button each morning. And hitting that tiny little button just once is never enough, right?

People generally think they’ve had a bad night’s sleep if they have a hard time waking up. According to author and writer Maria Konnikova, this is not necessarily the case. She says if you keep a regular schedule, your body has conditioned itself to start the wake up process for about one to two hours before that annoying alarm goes off. Hitting the snooze button actually messes with your sleep cycle by restarting it.

“You end up right back to where it began and you’re making all those preparations for nothing,” explains Konnikova. “You end up being even sleepier, even groggier than you would have been had you just dealt with it and gotten up right away.”

I’m going to try to remember to not hit the snooze button tomorrow morning but… old habits die hard.

For more information on this topic, please visit CBC News.

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Sisters Make the World a Better Place

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If you grew up with at least one sister, you are generally a happier and more balanced adult than if you had grown up without a female sibling in the family. These are the findings of a London survey done in 2009 and presented to The British Psychological Society.

“Sisters appear to encourage more open communication and cohesion in families… Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families,” says Professor Tony Cassidy of Ulster’s School of Psychology.

Cassidy, who conducted the study of 571 participants between the ages of 17 and 25, found that people who grew up without a sister tend to be more distressed.

So, if you have at least one sister, give her a hug! Odds are that she has provided you with better social support, more optimism, and better coping abilities than if you had grown up without her.

For more information on this study, please visit London’s University of Ulster.

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Rob Lowe: On Turning 50

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American film actor. Television actor. Golden Globe nominee. Rob Lowe will be turning the big 5-0 in March. His concerns are not about aging. Not in the least. His worries, like any other parent, focus on his kids. Lowe’s eldest son is in university (always a cause for concern when a child leaves the nest) and his youngest is university bound in the fall.

“I’d rather be 49 going on 50 than 24 going on 25, for sure,” says Lowe. “A few years ago, I got to a point where I realized that the only way you can tell someone’s age is how they live their life. The candles on the cake mean absolutely nothing.”

Turning 30 didn’t phase me. I had a harder time than expected turning 40. Lowe’s got his head screwed on right. I’ll have to remember his positivity when I turn the big 5-0… Is there a milestone birthday that you find daunting?

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