Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.
Today’s Health Upgrade
A special opportunity
A birdie told us
The serial killer of moderation
Are you old enough for a multivitamin?
For APC Readers: A Special Opportunity
We have a great opportunity for you!
We are celebrating the release of my new book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, with a special event at my home away from home: Gold's Gym in Venice. If you're going to be in the neighborhood Friday and want a free copy of the book before it's even released, RSVP here! You must RSVP for this event. It is free, but you will need a ticket. And space is limited!
There will also be an opportunity to interact with a beta version of a new technology that might be the only form of artificial intelligence that shouldn't be lowered into molten steel. I don't want to give away too much, but it's worth checking out. Remember, you must RSVP to attend.
Sorry, Elon — this item isn’t about the platform formerly known as Twitter. If you’re looking for a mental health break but don’t have time or money for a vacation, you might want to try nature’s music.
Several studies suggest listening to birds chirping can improve mental health, reduce stress, and boost mood.
And it’s not just going outside and hunting for a good bird song. Another study found that listening to a 6-minute recording of birds chirping was associated with reduced anxiety, depression, and paranoia.
At the very least, what do you have to lose?
Researchers have yet to pinpoint why birds singing help calm you down. However, a wealth of research suggests that the outdoors — both being in it and listening to the sounds of nature — have mood-boosting and stress-reducing benefits and that it appears to cause changes in our brains that lessen mental fatigue.
Guest Corner: The Serial Killer of Moderation
Today, we welcome Michael Easter, creator of one of our favorite newsletters (2 percent) and the author of the new book Scarcity Brain. Have you ever noticed that we — as humans — tend to push towards extremes, even when they are not helpful? We brought in Michael to help explain why and how to avoid that trap.
Everyone knows everything is fine in moderation. But why are we all so bad at it?
Why do we keep eating when we’re full? Or buy more stuff when we own too much? Or spend more time scrolling social media and the internet at the expense of going to the gym or focusing on what truly matters to us?
If you want to build better behaviors, you must stop getting stuck in the scarcity loop.
I spent years investigating human behavior for my new book, Scarcity Brain. The scarcity loop is a three-part behavior loop that evolved naturally in the human brain to keep our ancestors alive.
But it’s now often working against us. It’s the serial killer of moderation. There’s nothing better at pushing humans into quick repeat behaviors that can be rewarding in the short term but detrimental in the long run.
I discovered the scarcity loop when I visited a new, cutting-edge casino in Las Vegas that’s off-limits to the public and used entirely for behavior research. To understand the scarcity loop’s three parts, picture a slot machine. It offers:
1. Opportunity: We have an opportunity to get something of value. In the case of a slot machine, it’s money.
2. Unpredictable rewards: We don’t know when we’ll get the thing of value or how valuable it’ll be. Any given slot machine game could get you nothing, a few quarters, or a life-changing amount of money.
3. Quick repeatability: We can quickly repeat the behavior. The average slot machine player plays 16 games a minute, which is about as much as we blink.
When casinos embedded the scarcity loop in slot machines in 1980, slot revenues increased 10-fold. We now spend more money on slot machines than we do on movies, books, and music combined.
But that three-part system isn’t just in slot machines. Once other industries noticed its power, they began co-opting it. The scarcity loop is now embedded in social media, dating apps, sports gambling, personal finance apps like Robinhood, streaming TV and YouTube, the news cycle, gig work jobs like driving for Uber, and it’s even in the food system, and much more.
A behavioral psychologist explained that our attraction to this three-part system is likely ancient. It may have evolved to help our ancestors find food and other life-saving resources.
The fix? Because of our inherent liking of the loop, mindlessly getting pulled into social media, streaming TV, or even junk food isn’t necessarily your fault—but it is your problem to fix.
The book reveals three ways to get out of the scarcity loop. The first is becoming aware of it. If you find yourself in the loop, recognize what’s happening. Building awareness around a mindless behavior—what triggered it and why you’re doing it—makes us less likely to get sucked in. Brown University scientists, for example, discovered that this type of intervention reduced mindless eating by 40 percent.
Are You Old Enough For A Multivitamin?
Are you finding it harder to recall names, dates, or where you put your keys? A recent study found that taking a daily multivitamin could actually help improve your memory, especially as you get older.
Most studies on multivitamins are inconclusive or underwhelming, at best. But this study was different. They took individuals over the age of 60 and randomly assigned half of the people to take a multivitamin and the other half not to take one. Then, they monitored all participants for three years.
Unlike other multivitamin studies, the results were worth talking about. The group taking the multivitamin showed an impressive 30 percent improvement in memory, including recall and cognitive function, compared to the placebo group.
The results might be most pronounced for people who struggle to eat well, as the research — and another prior study — suggested that people with a history of cardiovascular disease saw even more benefits.
We still believe good nutrition and exercise are the best prevention against age-related decline. And a multivitamin doesn’t replace those behaviors. But, as you get older, it could be that your need for specific vitamins increases, and this is a simple way to give your body more insurance.
When buying a supplement, remember to look for brands with third-party certification, such as NSF Certified For Sport or Informed-Sport.
Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger