From the Actrix Online Informer October 2009

by Rob Zorn

How to become, or at least seem, better at life

One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that there's no shortage of bloggers and wise guys out there ready to give you advice about how you can be a better person. If that's not possible, there are also plenty of tips available on how to appear smarter or better at things. Here's a short collection rounded up from a few of the 'self-help' blogs and websites.

How to add five consecutive numbers quickly

Here's a "bar trick" you can use to impress your friends and workmates. Bet someone you can add any five consecutive numbers quicker than they can (or more quickly than they could do it on a calculator) using this simple trick. It still takes a bit of mental arithmetic, but nowhere near as much as it would if you actually mentally added up the numbers.

Speak up to look smarter than you are

Although you may have committed yourself to keeping your mouth shut unless you absolutely had something critical to add to a business meeting, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Frequent talkers are perceived as more intelligent and competent.

The trick won't work if you have no idea what's going on, of course. If you pipe up in the middle of a board meeting by yelling out, "We should move all the cattle to the Indo-China region!" nobody is going to think you more competent for your interjection.

How to do something difficult

Here are some tips on how to overcome difficulties and avoid being delightfully average. The key is to stop playing it safe without becoming foolish.

"Increasing your personal abilities is just like increasing your strength. You have to exercise in order to get stronger. If you want to grow as an individual, you have to do things that are hard in order to make it easier for you to do difficult things in the future."

How to stop taking things personally

Does someone else's bullying personality make you feel like you're worthless? Do you mistake people's antics for subtle insults? This article will highlight some ways in which you can remain unaffected by others' opinion of you, whether it's a weird look, a teasing remark, or a direct criticism.

Six tips for good deeds that take less than five minutes

"Do good, feel good" is one of the great truths of happiness – but you may be thinking, “Sure, good deeds would make me happy, but I barely have time to get through the essentials of my day. I don’t have time to do any good deeds!”

Wrong. Here are some ways that you can help other people – and make yourself feel great at the same time—in less than five minutes.

The mathematics of gambling

No one can predict the future, but the powers of probability can help.

When Edward Thorp, a mathematics student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, went to a casino some 45 years ago, he knew pretty well where the ball was going to land. He walked away with a profit, took it to the racecourse, the basketball court and the stock market, and became a multimillionaire. He wasn't on a lucky streak, he was using his knowledge of mathematics to understand and beat the odds.

The 'Are You Drifting?' quiz

Here's another one from the Happiness Project. Take the quiz to work out whether you're adrift. A person who's adrift won't decide on something, or won't take responsibility for the consequences of the decisions they make.

How to naturally reset your sleep cycle in one night

Not eating for 12-16 hours can help people quickly reset their sleep-wake cycle, according to a study from the Harvard Medical School. This discovery may drastically improve a person's ability to cope with jet lag or adjust to working late shifts. But seriously, 12-16 hours without eating?

Ten unusual ways to appear more confident

The person that appears confident is often not as confident as they appear. They just simply do a few things well. They walk in a way that appears confident. Their eyes seem alert. They stand tall. They have a faint appeal that you can’t quite put your finger on. You feel fine talking to them, but not to most people. They’re not wired differently than you. They just do a few clever things. Now you can do them too!

Seven tips for knowing if you're boring someone

Just because a person isn’t actually walking away or changing the subject doesn’t mean that person is genuinely engaged in a conversation. In fact the more socially adept a person is, the better he or she is at hiding boredom. Here are some factors to watch for when trying to figure out if you're not being very interesting.

Big changes or small changes?

There are two ways to make a major change in your life. One is to make a series of small changes – this month you might brown-bag your lunch one day a week; next month you might go for a short walk every day. The other is to make all your changes at once – cook all your own meals, exercise daily, and turn your hobby into a business. Either way can produce permanent changes for the better.

Being green: 11 environmentally friendly habits

The first couple of these are probably only relevant to Americans, but keep reading for some useful tips on how to live a little bit more greenly.


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