Friday, May 29, 2015

The importance of laughter in our life

Benefits of laughter to our physical health

  • Humor and laughter can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Laughter lowers blood stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisone, epinephrine and dopamine.
  • Promotes the production of health hormones such as endorphins and neurotransmitters.
  • Assist in the production of antibodies that help the body protect against infections
  • Strengths T-lymphocytes that are key pillars of a strong immune system
  • Exercises the diaphragm, abdominal and other body muscles so in addition to other benefits the opportunity for physical exercise helps the heart and the vascular system.
In addition:
Laughter is good for the heart
Laughter improves the function of the endothelium of arteries. Endothelium is the cell structure that covers the lumen of the vessels and is in contact with the circulating blood. The endothelium plays an important role in the genesis of atherosclerosis. Basically is at the level of endothelial that atherosclerosis is developed leading to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Researchers from the University of Maryland conducted tests about the endothelial function of arteries in a group volunteers with an average age of 33 years. The results showed that when the volunteers watched films that made them laugh, the functionality of the endothelium was significantly better. This translates into better blood flow in the arteries.
The observed improvement in the functionality of the endothelium after the laughter was similar to that observed after physical exercise. For this reason, researchers believe that laughter has about the same beneficial effect on the heart and arteries such as exercise.

Beneficial effects on mental health

Creates hope
The psychological and physical relaxation generated by laughter is well known to all. It can draw your attention away from things that cause anger, guilt, stress and other negative emotions. It allows you to see difficult situations with a new perspective, more like a challenge rather than a threat.
Creates better relationships
At the social level, laughter and humor, creates bonds and better relationships with others. Also,  because laughter is contagious, if we introduce into our lives more laughter this means that will help others in our environment to laugh more, which will have positive repercussions on many levels.
Improves mood
By improving the mood of those around us laughter and humor reduces not only their own stress levels but also ours. In this way the quality of our relationships is improved with benefits for everyone.
Creates better working conditions
Humor, smile and laughter can facilitate communication between employees and managers. They can create a work friendly environment where tasks are carried out effectively.
Laughing at work combats stress and promotes the relaxation of employees. The good mood and relaxation promoted by the laughter and good humor can increase efficiency and productivity. It must be stressed however that the jokes and other forms of humor should never offend anyone.
So we see that while laughter has many beneficial effects on mental and physical health, the frequency decreases drastically in adulthood compared with childhood. What can we do about it?

How can we laugh more often?

There are several ways to help us laugh more:
Watch a good comedy with friends: In cinema, television, theater. The selection of a good comedy can introduce frequent and more laughter in our lives. Laughing is contagious so watching a good comedy when we are with friends, is more enjoyable and creates happy memories.
Approach life from a different angle: The way we deal with everyday problems and vicissitudes of life, can be crucial in psychological and physical health. Instead of complaining, is better as much as possible to see them with another angle, with another lens and try to see the humorous side of things.
Try to laugh even when there is no real reason: Studies have shown that even when there is no real reason to laugh, the attempt to laugh alone creates positive results. Indeed there are specialists who recommend people to try a fake smile or fake laugh because this can lead to real laughter, with important benefits for their health.
Finally, I would say that laughter is an important natural weapon, without any side effects, that nature gave us to improve our mental and physical health. We should not forget that 15 minutes of laughter a day helps keep the heart and body in good health

11 Body Language Tricks To Make You Successful In Life

1. Use mirroring

Mirroring is doing what the other person you are speaking with is doing, albeit subtly. You don’t want to blatantly copy every little action they make, but you do want to delicately do, as they do. By mimicking their actions, whether it’s crossing your arms if they have their arms crossed, speaking soft if they speak soft, or keeping great eye contact if they keep it on you—you build a rapport with the individual. They feel more like you and therefore they feel more connected to you. It’s really effective in this sense. It can be used anyplace, but is especially helpful on dates, business meetings, and when meeting someone new.

2. Don’t make unnecessary adjustments

Oftentimes, nervous men will cross their arm over their body in an attempt to make an adjustment to say a cuff-link or a watch on that arm. They may be walking in front of a large crowd, or walking up to a beautiful woman, or perhaps getting on stage to make a speech, but by making this unnecessary adjustment on their arm, they’re displaying a great amount of insecurity. They do this as an unconscious attempt at covering their body with their arm. This action is all too common in guys and must be avoided. Stop fiddling around with something you don’t need to and you will not reveal your potential uncomfortable-side to the world. Instead, keep your arms on each side and confidently stroll into wherever you are going!

3. Do the power pose

The power pose is the extension of your arms up and over your head as high as possible. It creates a V-shape over your head. This pose actually has been studied and documented to increase testosterone, confidence, and leadership qualities in all who make it. Next time you’re feeling nervous or unsure of yourself before a big meeting, raise up those arms of yours and strike a power pose! You’ll be happy you did.

4. Uncross those legs

When people cross their legs, they signal that they are really resistant and unreceptive. It can be great if you want to distance yourself from someone, but if you are negotiating a great deal on a new car you want to buy or if you’re trying to convince your boss for a new raise, displaying resistance is not a good idea! Instead, uncross your legs and be open with your posture. After all, we all love getting a great deal!

5. Laugh to really connect

What’s better than a smiling, happy face? A smiling, happy, and laughingface. Laughter signals the ultimate form of connection between two people and it speaks so many volumes of rapport and bonding. Laugh when you want to really connect with someone in a business sense or a personal sense. Laughing on a date or making your date laugh are incredible signs of attraction and affection. Telling a playful and pertinent joke during an interview can be a great ice-breaker and a great way to connect with your potential boss! Laughing, and getting someone else to laugh, can be extremely beneficial when it comes to communicating effectively!

6. Uncross your arms

Just as crossing your legs can be a bad body language position to take, so can crossing your arms. Crossing your arms signals defensiveness and skepticism. When you cross your arms you distance yourself from whoever you are speaking with. Instead, uncross your arms next time you are trying to connect with someone you’ve just met and you’ll notice it’s easier to build a rapport with them.

7. Lift your chin up

When you lift your chin up, you display a great amount of pride, confidence, and dominance. If you’ve ever seen someone with their head down, you’ll understand the importance of lifting it up! By keeping it up you show you’re content with yourself and secure in who you are. Next time you want to display confidence, such as on-stage making a speech, telling a story to a group of friends, or interviewing for a desired position, keep your chin up!

8. Keep your palms up, too

When you are communicating with your hands, make sure you effectively incorporate the palms-up position. By doing this you subconsciously communicate trust. This shows that you are open and not hiding anything with whoever you are talking to. You don’t have to have your palms up the entire time, but regularly having them up is a good idea. This technique is incredibly effective in sales, marketing, or in trying to convince someone of something. Basically, any place where honesty or integrity may be in question.

9. Nod your head

When trying to build rapport with someone speaking to you, nod your head on occasion when the person says new things. This is a huge sign that you are in agreement with them and that you are listening and accepting what they are telling you. It creates a great bond in conversation when the listener is nodding their head and displaying that they are really listening. Next time a friend or spouse is telling you a story, nod your head occasionally and you’ll find them happier because they appreciate your listening skills.

10. Refrain from tapping your foot

Look, you may be bored, and you may want to do something else—like hit up that new burger joint down the street—but tapping your foot while your manager is making a point about something important, is not going to make him happy! In fact, it’s going to annoy him because you’re body is telling him how bored he is making you. Instead, keep your foot still for another minute or two, and let him vent. Instead of annoying him, listen to him (or at least pretend to) and really connect with him. The next time he reviews his upcoming promotions, you might just be on the top of the list!

11. Gently touch the person on the arm

By gently touching someone you are speaking with on the arm, say when you are telling a story or making a light-hearted joke, you build the feeling of trust up. This is not to say it’s okay to go around touching people all the time, it’s not. However, this is referring more to a light touch on someone’s arm or a playful pat on the shoulder or some other non-intimate place. By doing this, you actually create a bond between you and the person, and not just a literal connection, but a mental one as well. Next time you are on a date with someone, try touching them lightly while in conversation and you’ll notice a better connection.
There you have it! 11 tricks to help you succeed in your personal and professional life! You may not be the best speaker or the best chatter, but if you can get your body language down, you can be the best communicator! And this is so much more important in the overall picture. After all, communication is what life is all about, and your body communicates almost everything!

15 Inspirational Weekend Activities to do by Yourself

1. Go to a Free Gig

Coffee shops, libraries and local venues often host free gigs, so see if there is anything going on in your area this weekend. Concerts can actually be much more rewarding when you go alone; you can really listen to the music, rather than worrying about where your friends are.

2. Go on a Long Walk or a Hike

Going for a long walk and experiencing nature is often more enjoyable if you are alone, as it is peaceful, quiet, and relaxing.
You can stop to appreciate every beautiful flower you pass, you can take a break whenever you want, and best of all, you can hear all of the quiet, busy sounds of nature.

3. Order Your Favorite Take Out Food

Get the menu and order your favorite take-away with all of the toppings and extras. Revel in the knowledge that you don’t have to share one bite with anyone else, and you can order as much food as you want without judgement – except maybe from the delivery guy.

4. Take a Shopping Trip Alone

Dial down any shopping stress by taking the trip alone. Other people can slow you down or pressure you to hurry up, and you can end up missing out on the best clothes or deals.
Take a leisurely trip alone and take your time trying everything on: you are likely to have a great day and find something you love.

5. Finish That Project

If you have a few hours free and you’re feeling proactive, head to a coffee shop or your office and finish off anything you’ve been putting off. From updating your CV to finishing a work project, you will feel accomplished and proud as soon as you have finished.

6. Marathon a TV Show You Love

The best part about watching television alone is that you can watch whatever you want, no matter how shameful and embarrassing it is. Put on your comfiest clothes, get some snacks and put your feet up for hours of guilt-free viewing.

7. Exercise

Exercise can be a little awkward, especially when you first start. You haven’t fully learnt all the moves to Zumba yet, and you don’t know what most of the machines in your gym are actually supposed to be used for.
Exercising alone means you get to move at your own pace, and do exercises that interest you personally.

8. Test Yourself

Challenge yourself to keep your mind alert; pick up a Sudoku or fill in a quiz online. It is nice to achieve things when you are alone, and you get free bragging rights once you’ve finished.

9. Try New Recipes

Cook a new dish you’ve been eyeing up; you don’t have guests to let down if it goes wrong, and if it goes right you can eat it all yourself. This is a fun way to hang out by yourself, and you may become a cooking pro in the process.

10. Travel

Travelling alone means there are no compromises; you can go wherever you want, see whatever you want, and eat wherever you want. Even if you just travel to the nearest city for the day, savor the luxury of going at your own pace.

11. Visit a Bookstore

If you live near a library or bookstore with seating, take a trip there for a fun day alone. You can pick up a book, snuggle up, and travel to a different world in your mind. This is the perfect weekend plan if you are a little low on money, but you still want to have some quality alone time.

12. Take a Long, Hot Bath

If you have the time, set aside an hour for a long, hot bath. Indulge yourself; light some candles, put on a relaxing album and soak your troubles away.

13. Explore Your Local Museum

You may be put off visiting your local museum due to bad school trips and annoying tour guides, but you may have a totally different opinion after you have visited alone. Museums are filled with interesting and fascinating objects. And you can take your time to appreciate the things you really enjoy – without a tour guide telling you to move on.

14. Listen to Music

Listening to music when you’re alone is a real mood booster; you can put on your favorite album and sing along as loudly as you want – if you feel like it, you can even do some dancing too!

15. Relive Your Childhood

A great way to spend a day alone is to relive your childhood. Buy some of the food you loved as a child and put on your favorite children’s film for a day of cosy reminiscing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How Good Are You at Solving Problems?

Test Your Problem Solving Skills


For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

16 Statements to Answer

Not at AllRarelySometimesOftenVery Often
1Once I choose a solution, I develop an implementation plan with the sequence of events necessary for completion.
2After a solution has been implemented, I immediately look for ways to improve the idea and avoid future problems.
3To avoid asking the wrong question, I take care to define each problem carefully before trying to solve it.
4I strive to look at problems from different perspectives and generate multiple solutions.
5I try to address the political issues and other consequences of the change I’m proposing so that others will understand and support my solution.
6I evaluate potential solutions carefully and thoroughly against a predefined standard.
7I systematically search for issues that may become problems in the future.
8When I decide on a solution, I make it happen – no matter what opposition I may face.
9I find that small problems often become much bigger in scope, and thus very difficult to solve.
10I ask myself lots of different questions about the nature of the problem.
11After my solution is implemented, I relax and focus again on my regular duties.
12I focus on keeping current operations running smoothly and hope that problems don’t appear.
13I evaluate potential solutions as I think of them.
14When I need to find a solution to a problem, I usually have all of the information I need to solve it.
15When evaluating solutions, I take time to think about how I should choose between options.
16Making a decision is the end of my problem-solving process.

You probably tend to view problems as negatives, instead of seeing them as opportunities to make exciting and necessary change. Your approach to problem solving is more intuitive than systematic, and this may have led to some poor experiences in the past. With more practice, and by following a more structured approach, you'll be able to develop this important skill and start solving problems more effectively right away.
Your approach to problem solving is a little "hit-and-miss." Sometimes your solutions work really well, and other times they don't. You understand what you should do, and you recognize that having a structured problem-solving process is important. However, you don't always follow that process. By working on your consistency and committing to the process, you'll see significant improvements. 
You are a confident problem solver. You take time to understand the problem, understand the criteria for a good decision, and generate some good options. Because you approach problems systematically, you cover the essentials each time – and your decisions are well though out, well planned, and well executed. You can continue to perfect your problem-solving skills and use them for continuous improvement initiatives within your organization. Skim through the sections where you lost points below, and sharpen your skills still further!
Answering these questions should have helped you recognize the key steps associated with effective problem solving.

Figure 1 – The Simplex Process

Simplex Process Diagram
Below, we outline the tools and strategies you can use for each stage of the problem-solving process. Enjoy exploring these stages!

Step 1: Find the Problem

(Questions 7, 12)
Some problems are very obvious, however others are not so easily identified. As part of an effective problem-solving process, you need to look actively for problems – even when things seem to be running fine. Proactive problem solving helps you avoid emergencies and allows you to be calm and in control when issues arise.
These techniques can help you do this:
  • PEST Analysis   helps you pick up changes to your environment that you should be paying attention to. Make sure too that you're watching changes in customer needs and market dynamics, and that you're monitoring trends that are relevant to your industry.
  • Risk Analysis   helps you identify significant business risks.
  • Failure Modes and Effects Analysis   helps you identify possible points of failure in your business process, so that you can fix these before problems arise.
  • After Action Reviews   help you scan recent performance to identify things that can be done better in the future.
  • Where you have several problems to solve, our articles on Prioritization  and Pareto Analysis   help you think about which ones you should focus on first.

Step 2: Find the Facts

(Questions 10, 14)
After identifying a potential problem, you need information. What factors contribute to the problem? Who is involved with it? What solutions have been tried before? What do others think about the problem?
If you move forward to find a solution too quickly, you risk relying on imperfect information that's based on assumptions and limited perspectives, so make sure that you research the problem thoroughly.

Step 3: Define the Problem

(Questions 3, 9)
Now that you understand the problem, define it clearly and completely. Writing a clear problem definition forces you to establish specific boundaries for the problem. This keeps the scope from growing too large, and it helps you stay focused on the main issues.
A great tool to use at this stage is CATWOE  . With this process, you analyze potential problems by looking at them from six perspectives, those of its Customers; Actors (people within the organization); the Transformation, or business process; the World-view, or top-down view of what's going on; the Owner; and the wider organizational Environment. By looking at a situation from these perspectives, you can open your mind and come to a much sharper and more comprehensive definition of the problem.
Cause and Effect Analysis   is another good tool to use here, as it helps you think about the many different factors that can contribute to a problem. This helps you separate the symptoms of a problem from its fundamental causes.

Step 4: Find Ideas

(Questions 4, 13)
With a clear problem definition, start generating ideas for a solution. The key here is to be flexible in the way you approach a problem. You want to be able to see it from as many perspectives as possible. Looking for patterns or common elements in different parts of the problem can sometimes help. You can also use metaphors  and analogies to help analyze the problem, discover similarities to other issues, and think of solutions based on those similarities.
Traditional brainstorming   and reverse brainstorming   are very useful here. By taking the time to generate a range of creative solutions to the problem, you'll significantly increase the likelihood that you'll find the best possible solution, not just a semi-adequate one. Where appropriate, involve people with different viewpoints to expand the volume of ideas generated.


Don't evaluate your ideas until step 5. If you do, this will limit your creativity at too early a stage.

Step 5: Select and Evaluate

(Questions 6, 15)
After finding ideas, you'll have many options that must be evaluated. It's tempting at this stage to charge in and start discarding ideas immediately. However, if you do this without first determining the criteria for a good solution, you risk rejecting an alternative that has real potential.
Decide what elements are needed for a realistic and practical solution, and think about the criteria you'll use to choose between potential solutions.
Paired Comparison Analysis  Decision Matrix Analysis   and Risk Analysis  are useful techniques here, as are many of the specialist resources available within our Decision-Making section. Enjoy exploring these!

Step 6: Plan

(Questions 1, 16)
You might think that choosing a solution is the end of a problem-solving process. In fact, it's simply the start of the next phase in problem solving: implementation. This involves lots of planning and preparation. If you haven't already developed a full Risk Analysis   in the evaluation phase, do so now. It's important to know what to be prepared for as you begin to roll out your proposed solution.
The type of planning that you need to do depends on the size of the implementation project that you need to set up. For small projects, all you'll often need are Action Plans   that outline who will do what, when, and how. Larger projects need more sophisticated approaches – you'll find out more about these in the Mind ToolsProject Management section. And for projects that affect many other people, you'll need to think about Change Management   as well.
Here, it can be useful to conduct an Impact Analysis   to help you identify potential resistance as well as alert you to problems you may not have anticipated. Force Field Analysis   will also help you uncover the various pressures for and against your proposed solution. Once you've done the detailed planning, it can also be useful at this stage to make a final Go/No-Go Decision  , making sure that it's actually worth going ahead with the selected option.

Step 7: Sell the Idea

(Questions 5, 8)
As part of the planning process, you must convince other stakeholders that your solution is the best one. You'll likely meet with resistance, so before you try to “sell” your idea, make sure you've considered all the consequences.

Step 8: Act

(Questions 2, 11)
Finally, once you've convinced your key stakeholders that your proposed solution is worth running with, you can move on to the implementation stage. This is the exciting and rewarding part of problem solving, which makes the whole process seem worthwhile.
This action stage is an end, but it's also a beginning: once you've completed your implementation, it's time to move into the next cycle of problem solving by returning to the scanning stage. By doing this, you'll continue improving your organization as you move into the future.

Key Points

Problem solving is an exceptionally important workplace skill.
Being a competent and confident problem solver will create many opportunities for you. By using a well-developed model like Simplex for solving problems, you can approach the process systematically, and be comfortable that the decisions you make are solid.
Given the unpredictable nature of problems, it's very reassuring to know that, by following a structured plan, you've done everything you can to resolve the problem to the best of your ability.