#2. Control Anger by Using Your Less-Dominant Hand
Everyone knows at least one guy who hulks out over the stupidest things -- a messed up coffee order, a red light, global warming. Usually these people are just harmless joke fodder until they road rage on an elderly person over a politically charged bumper sticker. If you don't know one of these people, consider that it might be you.
Of course, there are all these tricks that your mom taught you that are supposed to calm you down ("Stop and count to 10!"), which of course don't work because in the moment you're enraged, you can't think logically anyway. What you need is to beef up your anger defenses before it gets to that point.
"Somebody stop me before I rob a sperm bank and make this town disgusting."
This one comes from the University of New South Wales, who found the perfect anger-management trick, and it wasn't cool jazz music or playful kittens wearing sunglasses. People who had anger issues were asked to spend two weeks using their non-dominant hand for anything that wouldn't endanger anyone: opening and slamming doors, writing hate mail, pouring coffee, and other dirty activities that are now crossing your mind. After two weeks, the subjects could control their temper tantrums better, even when other participants deliberately insulted them to get a reaction.
Why would this possibly work? Well, looking at angry people under brain scans shows that outbursts are less about too much anger and more about depleted self-control. That's both good news and bad news. The bad news is that self-control is a finite thing, and you can run out of it. The good news is that it's a physical mechanism of how your brain works, and you can strengthen it (or hack it into working better).
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"Fudge you, mother lover!"
Now, you'd assume that the only way to do that would be some kind of meditation or long classes in anger management. Or maybe to pay somebody to make an annoying noise in your ear for hours at a time and slowly decreasing the frequency with which you punch them in the head. But it turns out it doesn't take anything like that -- just asking these people to use their clumsy hand to do everyday tasks forced them to deal with hundreds of tiny, totally manageable moments of frustration. But that was enough to make them somewhat immune to it.
So, when things got ugly, suddenly they found that the walls around their internal anger demon were stronger. And it's probably also calming to know that if things get so bad that a gunfight breaks out, you're now capable of dual-wielding that shit.
"Oh, hey, you are totally correct. The grass is indeed purple. My mistake."
#1. Boost Your Immune System (by Looking at Pictures)
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Getting sick is something you wouldn't think you have much control over beyond the obvious things (eat healthy, wash your hands, etc.). But damn it, this article isn't about the obvious shit. This is about weird hacks that let you trick your system into working better. And if you want to beef up your immune system, find some pictures of disease.
Tom Le Goff/Digital Vision/Getty Images
There, we just prevented your next case of beardonitis.
Your brain manages everything, including your immune system. And we already know that seeing certain images can trigger physical responses in the body -- some pictures make us salivate, while others do downtown business on our private parts (boners). Well, when you see sick people, your body beefs up its defenses.
Scientists from the University of British Columbia showed students a 10-minute slideshow of sick people to measure their immune system's responses. So for 10 solid minutes, test subjects looked at images of people with rashes, bad coughs, and those weird booster shot scars you see on the middle-aged. What they discovered was that after the sick reel, the participants' white blood cells went into overdrive and began to produce interleukin-6 (IL-6), the same kind of protein a body would produce to fight off infection or combat burns.
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
"It says you're a piece of shit. Hmm. I don't need technology to show me that."
And if you're wondering if the triggered immune system was just a general response to stress, the answer is not really. While the participants certainly weren't held at gunpoint, there was a group who got the opportunity to look at pictures of people pointing guns at them, which netted a negligible 6 percent increase in IL-6. Looking at sickies, on the other hand, resulted in a 23 percent increase.
From an evolutionary standpoint, this sort of makes sense -- if you see your cave brothers and sisters spilling their guts all over the place or falling victim to the prehistoric flu, your body has to work a little harder to avoid catching the same illness and dropping dead. So your doctor is kind of screwing you by filling the waiting room with pictures of calming landscapes and clowns. If he or she wanted to beef up your defenses, the walls would be full of oozing sores.
"In lieu of antibiotics, I'd like you to stare at my measles scars for a full minute."
Speaking of hacking your brain, check out this video from this article's sponsor, Virgin Mobile.
For more ways to make yourself superhuman, check out 5 Ways to Trick Your Body Into Being More Awesome and 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Become Instantly Smarter.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Viral News Stories That Aren't As Bad As the News Claimed.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to give yourself a set of Wolverine claws.
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