The Left-Handed Reducer
Let’s say you have a colleague who has a habit of giving backhanded compliments. “You don’t look happy in that dress!” she says sweetly. “Don't worry, it makes you look smaller from behind.” Fuming, you keep hearing her words over and over: Worry...Smaller...Behind.
Reducer: Thomas Denson, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales, found that we can increase self-control in the same way we strengthen weak muscles—literally. For two weeks, right-handed volunteers had to use their left hand to do just about everything: brush teeth, open doors and stir the milk in their coffee. Later, these self-made lefties were less likely to retaliate when provoked than people who hadn’t been forced to switch hands. The surprising lesson here is that tiny tweaks in bodily self-control can have such an impact on anger management. “They rely on the same circuitry,” Denson says. Other exercises that require self-discipline may work just as well—like constantly keeping your shoulders back, spine straight, and chin up.