Daily Reading 21/5

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How a daily 10 minute exercise could boost your happines

Daily Reading by Thao Nguyen – 21.05.2019

Original Article: How a daily 10 minute exercise could boost your happines

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Even if you have not been diagnosed (chẩn đoán) with a mental illness, day-to-day stresses can easily drain ( làm kiệt quệ) your life of fulfilment and contentment (sự mãn nguyện).

There is no shortage of evidence-based strategies that can help to pull you out of that rut ( vết lún) – the scientific field of so-called (cái gọi là) ‘positive psychology’ is now 20 years old and has provided countless techniques to boost your mood.

But how do we find the time to apply them in our daily lives? Sandi Mann, a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, offers one solution. Building on her experience as a clinical psychologist, she has some suggestions that might help. As she outlines in her book, Ten Minutes to Happiness, her programme takes the form of a daily journal, to be completed in six parts:

1.      What experiences, however mundane, gave you pleasure?

2.      What praise ( lời tán dương) and feedback did you receive?

3.      What were the moments of pure good fortune?

4.      What were your achievements, however small?

5.      What made you feel grateful?

6.      How did you express kindness?

Much of the programme builds on a vast amount of scientific research showing that taking a little time to reappraise your day in these ways can slowly shift your mindset so that you eventually find more happiness in your life. When we feel low, it can be easy to overlook (bỏ qua) the things that are going right – and keeping this journal brings them to the forefront of your attention.

Mann stresses that the benefits do not just come from the immediate lift as you write the entries; re-reading your previous entries can help you cope with (đối đầu với) difficult situations in the future too. Thanks to our ‘associative’ memory, a dark mood – caused by one bad event – may lead you to preferentially (ưu tiên) remember other sources of stress and unhappiness. Whenever that happens, leafing through the pages of your journal may help you to break out of that ruminative spiral.

The sixth point builds on recent research into the power of kindness. Various studies have found that selfless acts not only increase the well-being of those around you, they consistently boost your own mood too. Spending a bit of money to help a stranger, for instance, makes you far happier than using the same cash to treat yourself, a finding that has been replicated (nhân rộng) in more than 130 countries.

Focusing on those occasions should ensure you make the most of (tận dụng) those warm feelings while also encouraging you to look for new opportunities the next day. (You can read more about this research in BBC Future’s archive story: Does it pay to be kind to strangers?)

A 10-minute review of your day can’t work miracles, of course – and Mann stresses that anyone who suspects (nghi ngờ) they may suffer from depression should still see their GP for professional medical care. But for those who generally feel ‘low’ and stressed, without severe clinical symptoms, this might just help put you back on the right path.

If you find Mann’s approach interesting, you may also enjoy her counterintuitive research on boredom. In a series of experiments, she has found that short periods of tedium can bring great benefits.

Students asked to copy out the phone book, for instance, tended to come up with more creative solutions to common brain teasers at a later point, compared with those who were spared the tedium. Mann suspects that the boring activity encourages the students’ minds to wander and daydream, encouraging more flexible thinking in the creative task.

“If you find yourself stuck on a problem, just take some time out – to be bored – and you might find that creative solution pops into your mind,” Mann told BBC Reel. This is particularly important today, when we may always be tempted to turn to social media to occupy our minds. “One way that we can embrace [this] in your lives is to stop swiping our boredom away,” she added. You can view the video above.

Over time, you might even find that your tolerance increases so periods of waiting that once felt agonising become an opportunity for calm and reflection. “Paradoxically, the best way to deal with boredom is to let more of it into your lives.”

Vocab Highlights:

diagnose (something): to say exactly what an illness or the cause of a problem is

=> The test is used to diagnose a variety of diseases.

drain (something): to make something empty or dry by removing all the liquid from it; to become empty or dry in this way

=>Drain and rinse the pasta.

contentment: a feeling of happiness or satisfaction

=> He has found contentment at last.

rut: a deep track that a wheel makes in soft ground

=> It was difficult to walk in the muddy ruts left by the tractor.

so-called: used to show that you do not think that the word or phrase that is being used to describe somebody/something is appropriate

=> the opinion of a so-called ‘expert’

praise: words that show approval of or admiration for somebody/something

=> His teachers are full of praise for the progress he’s making.

overlook something:  to fail to see or notice something

=> He seems to have overlooked one important fact.

preferentially: in a way that gives an advantage to a particular person or group

=> Club members would be treated preferentially.

replicate something (formal) to copy something exactly

=> The format of the seminar day will be replicated in each Sports Council region.

suspect: to have an idea that something is probably true or likely to happen, especially something bad, but without having definite proof

=> If you suspect a gas leak, do not strike a match or even turn on an electric light.

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