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Illustration: Keith Negley


Dealmakers: Check Your Arrogance

Look around. If you are running down a road and you look back and no one is following you, there are two—and only two—possibilities. One, you are way the hell ahead. Two, you are on the wrong road.

Sweat the fine print. If you read a contract and find yourself saying “yadda yadda” under your breath, convinced that a major player like you need not attend to all those tedious details, you could be about to lose your shirt. And maybe you think a deal is not, strictly speaking, a deal. Maybe you think a deal is only the beginning of a deal that needs to be dealt with for a long time. Maybe you also think the nice old gentleman across the table from you will be easy to manipulate. If so, you might be interested to learn that I once thought those exact same things when I was making a deal, and it ended up costing me $492,000.

Admit your failures. Don’t sweep them under the rug. Hang them on the wall right next to the moose head. They are the lessons of life, and they cannot be bought on the cheap. And sure, you can take off the hair shirt eventually. After all, even purgatory does not last for eternity. But give it a decade or so.

Jumpstart Creativity

Get beyond “either-or.” Blocked people tend to believe that they must either do something or not do it. But usually there are endless possibilities in the gray space between those two options.

Cultivate rebellion. The spark that comes from annoyance with the status quo can lead to great ideas.

Recognize when you’re lost. Maybe you don’t know how to define a problem. Maybe you do, but have no clue how to solve it. Either way, you’re lost, and until you acknowledge that, there’s little chance of a creative solution.

Don’t let success spoil you. Success can make people burrow down into their comfort spaces. They don’t want to make changes, and the result can be boredom, a prime threat to creativity.

Believe in luck. Luck is everywhere. It may take the form of a new technology, or a person you just met, or a simple change in the weather. And once you see the world this way, you’ll be alert to things that could lead you to your next brainstorm.

Make Mindfulness a Routine

Know the benefits. Mindfulness—the gentle effort to be aware of the here and now while acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations—increases self-awareness and self-acceptance while improving relationships. It can also help treat mild to moderate depression and quell anxiety, and can lead to better sleep, memory, and attention.

Don’t overhaul your life. When you incorporate mindfulness practice into what you already do, it is easier to stay committed. For example, focus on your sensory experience when taking a shower, or lying in bed at night.

Start small. It is smarter to start with a realistic goal and build up from it than to start big and stop. For some people, twenty minutes for mindfulness three times a week is best. For others, ten minutes of mindfulness daily works. Once you have managed to do the same routine a few times, you may be able to take a small step forward.

Consider joining a group. Being accountable to someone makes it harder to quit.

Protect Against Colds and Flu

Get a flu shot. That will reduce your risk of flu-related hospitalization, and the earlier you do it the better, since it takes about two weeks for antibodies against the flu to develop. Also, vitamin E improves response to the flu vaccine and reduces the risk of upper respiratory infections, according to a Tufts study. Consider supplementation to reach two hundred IU daily.

Walk. A study of more than one thousand people of all ages found that those who walked at least twenty minutes a day, five times a week, had 43 percent fewer sick days than others who exercised one day or less a week.

Eat right. Strengthen your immune system by eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Drink at least eight glasses of water or other non-sugary fluids as well. Finally, reduce calories if you’re overweight. Research at Tufts has shown that this, too, can strengthen immune response.

Lather up. When washing, rub your hands together for at least twenty seconds to eliminate germs, and don’t forget to clean under your nails.

Rest up. Make sure you’re not getting run down. And remember to sleep. Research at the University of Washington has linked a protein associated with sleep to the ability to fight off flu symptoms.

WE NEED YOUR ADVICE. What are you an expert on? Share your life-enhancing tips with “Take It from Me” (tuftsmagazine@tufts.edu or Tufts Magazine, 80 George Street, Medford, MA 02155). If we publish your submission, you will receive $50.

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