As you know, I’m all about the Up Side of life – there always is one, in any situation, and among my talents is finding it fast. I wrote a book about it; ’twas the text of a talk that wowed women at my church. Look for it on the Books by Me page of this blog-driven Author Site. A few remain to purchase, raising funds for Hope Wellness Center

Last week I began an exploration of bad habits that don’t require resolution for change – the ones that you may have already broken several weeks into 2015 – because they have boons and benefits. Let’s continue the trek – read on:

Habit#7: gossiping

Talking about other people seems to be a global fascination, a hobby that’s hard to break. People can’t resist a juicy story, with best-selling magazines devoted to celebrity gossip and regular folks sharing their sometimes idiosyncratic tales and personal brushes with stardom. I know about such magazines because I scan while waiting in the grocery cashier line…the photos are no more credible than the stories they headline.

I dislike this fact, but apparently sharing other people’s ‘news’ has an intriguing range of mood-boosting benefits. Researchers at Brown University found that people’s mood improved for up to four hours after spending just 20 minutes gossiping with a friend: they felt better after hearing that others had ‘it’ worse.

I guess one’s head is cleared after shaking over another’s sad, bad episode.

The benefits of gossip seem to be about bonding and connecting. As per an infamous line drawled in the movie, ‘Steel Magnolias’: “If you can’t say anything nice about somebody, then come sit by me…”

Not! An assertion to avowed gossipers: read a book or watch the news. Have something else to discuss. If you must, use gossip positively, and not as a way of judging, criticizing, or ostracizing other people.

Don’t include me unless your intentions are totally true blue. Only shared caring, to benefit another, has an UpSide.

Habit #8: swearing and blowing your stack Emotion05-Angry

Mama may have told you that cursing was a sign of a limited vocabulary, but using choice ‘blue language’ can actually make you feel better when you’re stressed. Expressing small amounts of anger can help to relieve tension in a healthy, mannerly way. One shouldn’t bottle up frustration, turning it against yourself. Unexpressed anger can turn into anxiety or sadness; researchers at Carnegie Mellon University revealed that anger is a healthier emotion because it produces less cortisol than fear, Dear.

Word to the wise: even when feeling angst, confine use of naughty words to proximity with people who are unlikely to find it offensive. Church folks recoil at OMG, so make it omg, please.

Other suggested tension relievers, beyond a few short, loudly-voiced words: a mini-rant (such as a blog post), punching a pillow, or pounding the streets during an anger-and-calorie burning run are all good ways of letting out stress. One can also purchase a ‘Dammit Doll’, like a favorite niece gave me…

Habit #9: fidgeting

Fidgeting may seem like a sign of restlessness but the foot tapper/doodler/thumb twiddler is actually perk his/her brain more alert and focused. This would explain the need for pads of paper for each participant of a staff meeting.

Just as we yawn when tired to bring more oxygen in to keep the brain awake, when we fidget, our body is trying to boost mental and physical alertness. It is not crazy to ‘self-stim’.

Studies show that this particular habit improves your working memory performance, what your brain can hold in mind while you problem-solve, akin to your computer’s desktop. If you’re not convinced by that, then consider that fiddling and fidgeting also speeds up your metabolism, helping your body to stay fit… my resolution to be more active just got a boost!

Habit#10: facebook, instagram, and pinterest

Throngs of people have the vacuous habit of checking social media, sneaking a peek while dining with family or friends, attending a game, in a dark theater during a play… I’ve even witnessed the act in church! Their phone seems a permanent, necessary appendage, a tool without which they might not feel they exist.

But having a social media presence can be higher-purposed: to help one behave better and stick to goals. Research shows that announcing intentions on social networking sites allows an individual to more easily stick to their plan, so announce away! There may be resolve checkers and cheerleaders among the compulsive social media-ites…

I’m not going to advertise my daily step tally on my Fit-Bit, however… Whaddayathink?