What would your life look like if you made your health a higher priority, if you were more authentic with the people in your circles and if you spent more time engaging with other human beings? These are areas where many people could better, researchers have found.
Misconception: I need to exercise several days a week.
Lots of people don't exercise because they think it's too much of a commitment. But according to a study recently published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, strength training only once a week for less than an hour is enough to reduce a person's risk of dying. You don't need to go to the gym or lift heavy weights--your own body weight is enough to fatigue your muscles. Try doing 25 pushups, 25 squats and 25 situps and repeat this cycle for four times total. Doing 100 reps each--300 movements in all--can easily be done by most people in 15 minutes and will certainly make you stronger in the long term.
Misconception: People won't like me if I admit I'm not perfect.
The opposite is probably true. German researchers conducted several experiments, wherein participants envisioned either themselves or another person in various vulnerable situations, such as confessing romantic feelings, admitting to being responsible for a big mistake, showing their imperfect bodies at a swimming pool, or having to improvise a song in front of an audience. Participants then rated the level of vulnerability displayed in each situation, and whether or not it was a positive act of strength, or a negative act of weakness. It turns out that imagining someone else making themselves vulnerable was generally found to be perceived positively, whereas thinking about one's own self doing it was not. So, while it may seem scary to risk your reputation or lose friends because of not being perfect, in reality putting yourself out there can help you connect with others who interpret your vulnerability as courageous.
Misconception: Small talk is a waste of time.
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that while people feel as if they'd be happier or more comfortable not engaging with strangers in public, the reverse is more likely. Study participants were asked to either connect with a stranger on public transportation or refrain from doing so, and those who connected reported having a more positive experience than those who remained solitary. In a separate experiment people also were found to be happier after having been talked to by another person while hanging out in a waiting room. "Human beings are social animals," the study authors write. "Those who misunderstand the consequences of social interactions may not, in at least some contexts, be social enough for their own well-being."