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Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You Publisher:TTC Author:Professor Peter M. Vishton, Ph.D.

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24 lectures
31 minutes each
1
Take Control of Your Automatic Brain
Recent decades have seen an explosion of understanding about our brains, and with this new information come some surprising and counterintuitive conclusions about our behavior and decision-making processes. In this first lecture, examine the disconnect between our actions and our consciousness of those actions. Are we as in control of ourselves as we like to think?x
2
Beat Procrastination by Doing Nothing
From time to time, procrastination affects us all. Here, you'll discover several evidence-based strategies for reducing procrastination by attacking it at its source. Three tips show you how to be more efficient and effective. Along the way, you'll study the neurochemistry of why we procrastinate-and what makes it so tempting.x
3
Train Yourself like a Dog
The unconscious plays a strong role in developing bad habits. To help you examine and modify your behaviors, Professor Vishton gives you several tips, ranging from the very simple (keep a notebook of your activities) to the complex (employ behavioral psychology). Which of your habits would you most like to change?x
4
Clean Your Kitchen, Improve Your Diet
What can neuroscience tell us about healthy eating? Can scientific insights help you curb unhealthy snacking? In this first of two lectures on food, see how simple changes such as cleaning your kitchen and changing your food's packaging may have a measurable effect on unhealthy eating habits.x
5
Eat Slow, Eat Small, Eat Smart
To be healthy, you must eat healthy. This second lecture on food considers the hormones that drive hunger cues and how your body responds to different foods. Find out why high fructose corn syrup is bad for you-and why exercise might not help you lose much weight.x
6
The Myth of Multitasking
Our modern world seems to demand multitasking. We constantly check email, make phone calls, and live on the go. But recent research clearly shows that we are more efficient and creative if we can focus on one task at a time-a strategy known as monotasking." Consider how the brain works when confronted with multiple tasks."x
7
Future You and Better Decisions
Enter the fray of a negotiation between the present you" and the "future you." Do you take $10 today, or wait for $15 next week? While the answer may seem logically clear, we have a powerful, built-in desire for instant gratification. Learn what you can do today to make decisions you will approve of tomorrow."x
8
How to Become an Expert on Anything
You might think talent is ingrained, and that either you have it or you don't. But cognitive research reveals that practice is just as-if not more-important for success in a given task. Discover strategies for how to practice any skill, and how to stick with it until you become an expert.x
9
Tune Up Your Brain with Meditation
We all have a conception of what meditation is-but what actually happens inside your brain? Could it be that meditation built into our evolutionary makeup? And how can regular practice benefit us? Reflect on the answers to these questions and more in this eye-opening lecture.x
10
Take the Sleep Challenge
Explore the mysterious realm of sleep. While your body may shut down, your brain performs important, fascinating work to help you be more focused, creative, and productive in your waking life. Here, you'll discover why eight hours of sleep is so crucial. Then you'll consider the role of dreams.x
11
Boost Insights and Creativity
Have you ever wished you could be more creative? From listening to the right music to getting into a creative frame of mind, Professor Vishton offers several practical, easy-to-implement strategies for finding more creative solutions, solving puzzles, and enhancing your mental prowess.x
12
Enhance Performance with Imagery
Imagine you could lift more weights or better perform an athletic task without once putting on your sweats or driving to the gym. It turns out that mental training has genuine physical effects, all because the human imagination is such a powerful tool. Learn how to use imagery and the imagination to boost your performance.x
13
Overcome Your Aging Brain
There's no doubt that neurons die off and mental decline occurs, but the good news is that we can stave off these ill effects through exercise, new experiences, and more. In this lecture, delve into the aging brain to see what happens as we get older, and what you can do to mitigate the force of time.x
14
Grow Your Brain Out of Depression
Even if we never experience a major depression in our lives, mild depression is like the common cold" of mental illness. Yet most people fail to seek help, instead trying to power through these unfortunate down periods. Here, Professor Vishton offers several ways to fight these mild depressions."x
15
Hack Your Brain to Unlearn Fear
From flying to public speaking, we all have a number of arguably irrational phobias. Where do these fears come from? How do we learn them? And most importantly, how do we overcome them? Go on a step by step journey through the world of fear, and learn what you can do to minimize common phobias.x
16
Use Your Body to Alter Your Mind
Jog your brain into activity-literally. In this fascinating lecture on the relationship between the body and the mind, you'll learn why forcing yourself to smile has genuine mental benefits, see how physical activity can aid your problem-solving skills, and more. Test yourself at the end to see these theories in action.x
17
Suppress-Don't Repress-Anger
Here, Professor Vishton considers the mechanisms behind anger, which leads to an explanation of how humans mirror each other's behaviors and emotions. Understanding the roots of our anger then provides a way to diffuse tense situations and gain better control of our emotional landscapes.x
18
How Little Things Cause Big Persuasion
Shift your attention from outsmarting yourself to the ways people try to outsmart you. This first of a two-lecture unit on persuasion examines how the reciprocity effect," apparent expertise, and scarcity are all subtle methods of persuasion. Uncovering these techniques will make you a savvier consumer, negotiator, and more."x
19
How Framing Changes Decisions
Continue your study of persuasion with a look at two common techniques in sales: getting your foot in the door" with a small request and asking for a big, "door in the face" kind of favor-using either as a prelude to what you really want. Whether you are in the business of persuasion or simply want to be better informed, this lecture is invaluable."x
20
How Language Changes Your Brain
Humans have a language instinct unlike any other living creature. Explore the exciting world of linguistics and the brain, discovering how language influences our behaviors-even when we are not conscious of it. What you'll learn is that for your physical health and mental well-being, words most certainly matter.x
21
How Your Brain Falls in Love
Poets have been ruminating about love for ages, but what do the neuroscientists have to say? Here, consider why people fall in love, and what role simple exposure, facial symmetry, and eyes play in romantic attraction. Review what happens inside the brain when you fall in love.x
22
The Neuroscience of Lasting Love
Look beyond the superficial qualities of attraction and delve into love as a long-term emotional commitment. Examine the three main "love systems" in the brain and what we can learn from them. This lecture shows us why staying in love can be a bigger challenge than falling in love.x
23
How Your Brain Creates Happiness
We all want to be happy, but achieving this state of being is the million-dollar question. In this first lecture on happiness, find out precisely why money truly doesn't buy happiness. You'll investigate the effects on your brain of earning a higher salary or winning the lottery, and then reflect on the way time is ultimately more valuable for happiness.x
24
Happy Brains Are Smart Brains
Round out your course with some helpful tips for living a happy, fulfilled life. From exercising in green, natural surroundings to putting more value on your time, happiness is most definitely achievable-and it can even become a habit. All it takes is a little work to outsmart yourself.x

What if you aren’t as in control of your actions as you think you are? What if your subconscious is driving your decisions without your approval? Is there a way to “hack” your brain to perform better, live healthier, and break your bad habits? We all can think of things about ourselves we’d like to change, but as neuroscientists are coming to realize, changing our behaviors isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Many of our everyday decisions are rooted in the subconscious, which means we have to “outsmart” our own brains to see results.
Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You will give you insights into how your mind works and the tools you need to make lasting change. Taught by Professor Peter M. Vishton, Associate Professor of Psychology at William & Mary, these 24 exciting lectures give you a wealth of practical strategies for enhancing your thinking and improving your well-being. You’ll see how the subconscious guides much of our behavior, leading to a kind of autopilot through much of life, including when it comes to making important decisions.
The brain is an amazing instrument, and neuroscientists today have more information than ever about how it works—as well as strategies for helping us live better every day. The surprising thing is just how counterintuitive some of these strategies can be. For instance, the best way to combat procrastination is often to…do nothing for 20 minutes. By forcing yourself to do nothing, you won’t get caught up in time-sucking avoidance behaviors like checking email. After 20 minutes, you’ll find yourself focused and ready to get to work.
Neuroscientists have stumbled onto countless insights for living better, many of which go against the grain of what you might think you know. Examine why exercise is less helpful for weight-loss than we had previously believed (but is valuable in other ways), why talent is an overrated predictor of success, how the effects of mindfulness meditation have benefited us since our hunter-gatherer days, what procrastination can do for your creativity, and more.
Whether we’re distracted by too many tasks, being influenced by crafty marketers, or simply living in a rut of bad habits, our conscious brains aren’t always guiding us toward the best actions. Fortunately, Professor Vishton offers the latest in scientific research to outsmart the automatic workings of your brain. Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You empowers you take charge of your life and harness your brain’s full potential.
Uncover Evidence-Based ‘Hacks’ For Your Brain
One common misconception is that we only use 10 percent of our brains. In fact, Professor Vishton explains, it’s clear that we use much more than that, but we may only understand 10 percent of our brains. The good news is that recent years have seen an explosion of knowledge about the brain, and with that knowledge comes new opportunities to perform better. One key theme running through Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You is that a few simple practices really can offer dramatic results in our performance, creativity, physical health, and mental well-being.
From the myth of multitasking to the mechanisms behind falling—and staying—in love, Professor Vishton shows you what is happening inside your brain, which will help you achieve your goals like never before.

Improve Your Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health: Curb your unhealthy snacking, unlearn your phobias, improve mindfulness, and combat depression. These things are easier said than done, but brain-based strategies for living healthfully offer immeasurable dividends.
Master the Mental Game: Researchers have discovered that simply imagining yourself performing an exercise can make as big an impact on your strength as physical practice. From how language shapes your brain to the practice of “monotasking,” encounter ways to improve your performance.
Hone the Subtle Art of Persuasion: Learn the tricks of the salesperson’s trade, from after-dinner mints at a restaurant to the pricing strategy at your local watering hole. Researching the art of persuasion will empower you in your negotiations and make you a savvier consumer.
Uncover the Key to Happiness: If money doesn’t buy happiness, where do you turn for a fulfilling life? Based on longevity studies, see why valuing your time and deepening your friendships might be the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Build a Toolkit of Strategies for Better Living
When you complete this course, you will have an abundant list of practical, everyday ways to strengthen your creativity, improve your problem-solving, enhance your health, and generally operate on a higher level:

Examine why keeping a notebook might be the easiest way to shake bad habits such as biting your fingernails.
Delve into the psychology of anger and emotional mirroring, which will help you better diffuse interpersonal tensions.
Perform a bit of time travel to outsmart your “present self” to make life better for your “future self.”
Consider eating fermented foods next time you feel the blues and need an emotional pick-me-up.
If you want to boost your creativity, try taking a walk—preferably in a nice outdoor green space.

These are just a few of the many tips and strategies Professor Vishton offers to help you overcome your brain’s hardwiring.
In each lecture, he backs up each of his strategies with evidence from psychological studies and the recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience. You’ll explore some of the classic experiments in psychology, from John Watson’s behaviorism to Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies. Thanks to research with EEGs, fMRIs, and other technologies, you’ll go inside the brain to find out how our neurochemistry drives our behaviors—and what we can do about it.
Participate in Each Lecture
One thing that makes this course so unique is that not only do you walk away with practical tips, you also get the chance to put these tips into practice during the lectures. How do you use a five-gallon and a three-gallon jug to measure out exactly four gallons? How do you connect two ropes hanging from the ceiling if they’re more than an arm’s width apart? Professor Vishton gives you ample opportunities to test your creativity and problem-solving skills with engaging puzzles, brainteasers, word games, and more. These mental calisthenics are sure to get your neurons fired up.
Whether you are looking for a mental stimulus or want increased clarity for the challenges of everyday life, Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You offers a satisfying blend of theoretical knowledge and practical know-how to help you jumpstart a more productive and fulfilling life.

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