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The Benefits of Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

We shortchange our well-being by reserving this resource just for Thanksgiving.

“When I look back on the suffering in my life, this may sound really strange, but I see it now as a gift. I would have never asked for it for a second. I hated it while it was happening and I protested as loudly as I could, but suffering happened anyway. Now, in retrospect I see the way in which it deepened my being immeasurably.” ~Ram Dass

It’s that time of year. In addition to providing an opportunity to gather with family and friends to gorge ourselves on food and football, Thanksgiving is an annual culturally compelled celebration of our various blessings—a specific occasion to “give thanks.” As meaningful as this holiday can be and as helpful as it is to have structured encouragement to express gratitude, once a year is quite simply not enough. The bio-psycho-social-spiritual benefits of gratitude are myriad. Cultivating conscious contact with gratitude is a skill, and we can profit immensely by learning and practicing it.

Gratitude is about feeling and expressing appreciation: for all we’ve received, all that we have (however little it may be), and for all that has not befallen us. It functions as an antidote for attachment to what we want but don’t have and aversion to what we have but don’t want. Gratitude is the opposite of being discontented.

It’s valuable to be aware that nearly all experiences have both “positive” and “negative” aspects. Consistent with the above quote from Ram Dass, even circumstances that are brutally physically and/or emotionally painful, often contain considerable psycho-spiritual blessings in the forms of learning, growth, and healing. Sometimes we have to work harder to locate the positive and unearth its gifts (and sometimes these become manifest only in retrospect)—but if we make the time and invest the energy to look closely and search consciously, we will find them. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how negative or desperate things may seem.

Gratitude changes perspective—it can sweep away most of the petty, day-to-day annoyances on which we focus so much of our attention—the “small stuff” situations that bring up feelings of impatience, intolerance, negative judgment, indignation, anger, or resentment. Gratitude is a vehicle to diffuse self-pity and self-centeredness, increase feelings of well-being, and prompt mindful awareness of that which is beyond oneself—of belonging to a greater whole, and of connection to others, as well as to the world.

gratitude

Over the past decade, numerous scientific studies have documented a wide range of benefits that come with gratitude. These are available to anyone who practices being grateful, even in the midst of adversity, such as elderly people confronting death, those with cancer, people with chronic illness or chronic pain, and those in recovery from addiction. Research-based reasons for practicing gratitude include:

•    Gratitude facilitates contentment. Practicing gratitude is one of the most reliable methods for increasing contentment and life satisfaction. It also improves mood by enhancing feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions. Conversely, gratitude also reduces anxiety and depression.

•    Gratitude promotes physical health. Studies suggest gratitude helps to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, reduce symptoms of illness, and make us less bothered by aches and pains.

•    Gratitude enhances sleep. Grateful people tend to get more sleep each night, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and feel more rested upon awakening. If you want to sleep more soundly, instead of counting sheep count your blessings.

•    Gratitude strengthens relationships. It makes us feel closer and more connected to friends and intimate partners. When partners feel and express gratitude for each other, they each become more satisfied with their relationship.

•    Gratitude encourages “paying it forward.” Grateful people are generally more helpful, generous of spirit, and compassionate. These qualities often spill over onto others.

Two specific ways you can practice the skill of being grateful are by writing gratitude letters and making gratitude lists. A gratitude letter is one you write to someone in your life to express appreciation for ways they have helped you and/or been there for you. Gratitude letters can be about events that have happened in the past or are happening in the present, and often help to strengthen or repair relationships. A gratitude list consists of writing down 3 – 5 things for which you’re grateful every day, each week, at other intervals, or under situation-specific circumstances.

You can test the effectiveness of these methods by tuning in to your current emotion(s), mood, and attitude. Once you’ve done that, take a few minutes and identify 3 things or people that you are grateful for and briefly describe to yourself or in writing the reason(s) for your gratitude. Then notice how the way you feel has shifted after doing this simple brief exercise.

For five years during the 1990s, I was the clinical director of a hospital-based addiction treatment program outside of New York City. I worked closely with the program’s medical director, a psychiatrist who was in recovery for many years through a twelve-step program.

At a conference on addiction he gave a talk that focused on his personal recovery experience. During a powerful and moving presentation, he described being grateful that he was an addict. He went on to say that, in contrast to most people who operate more or less on automatic pilot and effectively sleepwalk through life, embarking on a process of recovery had given him the awareness to live life much more intentionally. As a result, he took little for granted and appreciated much. Although his reasoning made sense, it was difficult for me to comprehend the idea of having such profound gratitude for an experience that involved so much suffering . . . until I found my way to my own recovery.

There are no guarantees of anything and we can take nothing for granted in this life. Every day is a gift; every breath is a gift. What we do with them is a choice.

by Dan Mager, MSW       Nov 18, 2014
Dan Mager, MSW is the author of
Some Assembly Required: A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain.
He received his MSW from Hunter College.
In Print:  Some Assembly Required: A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain
 
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4 Scientifically Proven Tips to Improve Your Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy in their lives, but it isn’t always easy. You may take drastic measures — try to buy new things, meet new people, uproot your life, but nothing changes. But being happy starts in your mind, so you have to give your mind what it needs first. If you’re looking for some foolproof ways to improve your life, here are 4 scientific tips on how to boost happiness, starting in your brain.

EXPERIENCE GRATITUDE
Studies have shown time and time again that expressing gratitude and humility for the good qualities in your life can make you happier on a chemical level. Gratitude stimulates the brain to create dopamine and feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. By expressing your gratitude to people you are grateful for, you in turn create a positive social relationship with those around you that keeps on giving.

EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS
Whether it’s through verbal language, writing or some other form of art, expressing what your innermost feelings are can have an instant effect on your life outlook. Often, our deepest emotions can get blurred while they’re still whirling around in our minds. By putting your emotions out there, you can take a step back — look, read or watch — and begin to understand your feelings for what they really are. This allows your brain the space to analyze and process emotions, which often reveals that they are not as intense or dire as you may have previously thought. Expressing your emotions allows you to put everything into perspective.

GIVE UP PERFECTION
While worrying about your problems can seem productive — at least it’s on your mind, right? — it gets you nowhere in the long run. Instead of struggling and stressing over making the best decision possible, you are far better off making any decision rather than worrying over it. Making a decision moves you forward. Worrying does not. Once you’ve made a decision, your brain will immediately feel more at peace. While making a bad decision is not encouraged, making one that is good enough but not ideal is probably the best way to go in terms of reducing stress and increasing happiness. A good enough decision activates a different part of the brain than an ideally perfect decision. The former activates the prefrontal cortex, which controls logic, while the latter activates more emotional portions of the brain which can make us feel less in control. An active decision also increases dopamine production, meaning it actually makes you happier, regardless of what you have decided.

ENJOY HUMAN TOUCH
Human contact is a powerful force in the body. It can boost the immune system, increase trust, improve learning and — you guessed it — boost your happiness and wellbeing. Human touch like a hug releases oxytocin in the brain, which actually works to facilitate intimacy and social bonding. Feeling like you have a network of trustworthy people around you can do wonders to improve your happiness. Go for long hugs, if appropriate. Those stimulate the most oxytocin production.

Being happy starts in the brain. By being true to yourself and others, you can live a happier life, accompanied by other great side effects — like stronger social connections, stronger feelings of self-worth and a more positive outlook on life. Of course, listening to good music or drawing a hot bath are great mood quick fixes, too, but true happiness starts at your core.

 source: www.care2.com


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10 Simple Ways To Bring Positive Energy Back Into Your Life

“The worst times can be the best if you think with positive energy.” 
– Domenico Dolce

Have you wondered what exactly is positive energy? According to Annie’s Hallmark, “Positive energy is the natural energy that supports life.  Ancients commonly referred to this energy as “chi” or “prana,” but today science refers to this as “vital force.”

Feeling low or negative is a normal thing that happens with all of the ups and downs that life has to offer. It can be easy to just wallow in those feelings, but we all hold the responsibility of bringing ourselves back from those negative feelings. Oftentimes, we tend to wait for positivity to happen to us, rather than learning how to bring positivity into our lives ourselves.

Dr. Judith Orloff, author of Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and Love says, “We can’t stop the negative circumstances of our time–our cell phones will keep ringing, e-mails will keep coming, people will be rude, our children will be demanding, and bad things will happen in the world. But we can learn ways to protect our energy so that we can stay centered in dealing with the stresses that arise.”

Therefore, it’s important to know how to bring positive energy into your life so you can move forward as a better and brighter person.

HERE ARE 10 SIMPLE WAYS TO BRING BACK POSITIVE ENERGY INTO YOUR LIFE

1. KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED

This can be difficult, but it’s important to know what you need to bring yourself out of those negative feelings. It can be as simple as needing a support system, and then reaching out to friends and family. Or, maybe you need time away from a stressful situation. While it can be hard to know what it is we need out of life, learning to assess and figure it out is one of the first steps to bringing positive energy back into your life. As Buddha rightly pointed out, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”

2. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE AND DON’T THINK ABOUT NEGATIVITY

We all know how difficult it is to not focus on negative energy. Switching your focus from the negativity in your life can be just what you need to start to overcome it. As Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University pointed out, “Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”

Therefore, when something negative happens, you’ll want to focus all your energy on the badness of the situation. Instead, it’s time to start taking those negative things and learning to see the silver lining. Focus on all of the positive things about a bad situation that you can, and figure out how to fix the negative.

3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

Learning how to be honest with yourself is one of the things that many people struggle with, and it can take time to learn. But once you learn to be honest with yourself, you’re going to be a much happier and positive person, because you’ll be able to acknowledge the hard truths about both yourself and your negative situations. Once you learn to be honest with yourself, you can start making the changes that you want to make in yourself.

4. REMEMBER TO BREATHE!

It’s important to take a moment to breathe when you’re in the middle of a negative situation. We’re oftentimes so caught up with running around trying to fix everything that we get caught up and forget to take a moment to ourselves to relax. So, remember to pause and take a deep breath. Both mentally, and physically. Breathing exercises will help keep your mind and body aligned and focused on positive energy.

5. REMEMBER TO LAUGH!

Even if something seems hopeless, it’s important to remember it’s okay to laugh at yourself, or the irony of a negative situation. The very act of laughter will release some good, positive chemicals and help you stay emotionally balanced. If you can learn to laugh at life, you’ll be good to go with replacing negative energy with positive.

6. PAY IT FORWARD BECAUSE LITTLE THINGS MATTER

When you get positive energy, remember to give positive energy. This will have the side-effect of giving you even MORE positive energy! This means reaching out to people, from friends to family to even strangers.

Here’s what author and founder of Success Consciousness, Remez Sasson said about being nice to people, “Acting kindly and being considerate will make people treat you in the same way, and this will lead to feeling good, happy, and therefore, becoming more positive.” This means that thinking positively about those around you, will extend your positive energy to your community. You’ll feel good about paying forward that positivity while also receiving positivity from others.

7. LEARN TO LET GO NO MATTER HOW HARD IT CAN SEEM

This is one of the most difficult steps that we all have to learn one way or another. Letting go of our negativity and sadness and anger can be so hard, but it’s always worth it in the end. You can only control yourself and the energy that you give out. If you find yourself hung up on a grudge or an old argument, you may be feeding negativity energy right into your life without knowing it.

Here’s what Catherine Pulsifer mentioned about trying to bring back positive energy into your life. She states, “It takes effort and belief to persevere and stay dedicated to accomplish your goal. When you find yourself doubting whether the effort is worth it, visualize how you will feel and what you will have once your goal is completed.” Learning to let go means you can begin the healing process and start feeling more positive energy.

8. CONNECT WITH NATURE

Nothing gives more positive vibes and relaxing energy than just reconnecting with Mother Earth. Going to the gym or the spa are good ways to relax your body and mind, but it’s also a good practice to just go for a walk through the woods or sit by the river and experience all of the majesty and wonder that the Earth has to offer. It can help remind you that you’re just one small part in the grand scheme of things.

9. LEARN TO FEEL YOUR EMOTIONS

Sometimes, we bottle our emotions up deep inside, especially if they’re negative or inconvenient to us. However, you have to learn to feel your emotions authentically and as they happen. When you feel sad, you have to let yourself feel that sadness. Because once you feel it and experience it, you can move on from it and return to your positive feelings. Bottling up your emotions only means that you’re going to be constantly feeding on negativity.

10. CLEAN YOUR SPACE AND BECOME CLUTTER-FREE

If you’re living in a cluttered environment, it can be harder to truly let yourself feel the positivity that flows around you. According to author and certified eco-designer Debra Duneier “This changes the energy and prepares the space to celebrate the wonderful things that are about to come into your life.” When you start to clean up your living space, you’ll feel so much lighter and calmer. It’s also a good way to relax and to rearrange your life so you feel less stress.

You never know when there will be something that causes a low point in your life, and being able to focus on yourself and bring positive energy into your life again will help you cope with whatever negative feelings are happening to you. Hopefully, these things will give you a better handle on how to bring positive energy back into your life.

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.YOURTANGO.COM/EXPERTS/GALTIME-COM/8-STEPS-ATTRACT-POSITIVE-ENERGY-YOUR-LIFE
HTTP://WWW.DRJUDITHORLOFF.COM/POSITIVE-ENERGY/DESCRIPTION.HTM
HTTP://WWW.NYTIMES.COM/2012/03/24/YOUR-MONEY/WHY-PEOPLE-REMEMBER-NEGATIVE-EVENTS-MORE-THAN-POSITIVE-ONES.HTML?MCUBZ=1
HTTPS://WWW.SUCCESSCONSCIOUSNESS.COM/BLOG/POSITIVE-ATTITUDE/FOCUS-ON-THE-POSITIVE-AVOID-THE-NEGATIVE/
HTTPS://WWW.SUCCESSCONSCIOUSNESS.COM/STOP-NEGATIVE-THINKING.HTML


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How To Deal With Negative Thoughts And Anxiety

People in the study were asked to journal about their most stressful experiences.

Accepting negative emotions is the best way to deal with them in the long-run, new research finds.

People who are more accepting of their darker moods have better psychological health.

Dr Iris Mauss, one author of the study, said:

“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health.”

Psychologists are still not sure exactly why acceptance is so powerful, said Dr Mauss:

“Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention.
And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”

The results come from research on over 1,300 people.

Those who most strongly resisted negative emotions, or judged them excessively, were more stressed.

Over six months, the people who did best were those who let their dark moods run their course, with little judgement or criticism.

They had fewer symptoms of mood disorders like depression.

Dr Brett Ford, the study’s first author, said:

“It turns out that how we approaach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being.
People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”

The researchers ruled out being richer as a factor, Dr Mauss said:

“It’s easier to have an accepting attitude if you lead a pampered life, which is why we ruled out socio-economic status and major life stressors that could bias the results.”

People were asked to journal about their most stressful experiences, in one of three studies the researchers conducted.

In general, those who did not feel bad about feeling bad had the highest levels of well-being and psychological health.

Next, the researchers want to look at where the habitual acceptance of negative emotions comes from.

Dr Mauss said:

“By asking parents about their attitudes about their children’s emotions, we may be able to predict how their children feel about their emotions, and how that might affect their children’s mental health.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Ford et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog    AUGUST 19, 2017 


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26 Mind-Blowing Psychology Facts That You Never Knew About People

Learning something new about yourself is always interesting and entertaining. And understanding the psychology behind the way we behave, treat others, and express ourselves can be even more appealing.

Today, we have compiled a list of the most surprising psychology facts that can help you better understand yourself and others.

Our emotions don’t affect the way we communicate.
In fact, the very opposite is true:

 

  1. Any friendship that was born in the period between 16 and 28 years of age is more likely to be robust and long lasting.
  2. Women generally prefer men with deep husky voices because they seem more confident and not aggressive.
  3. The people who give the best advice are usually the ones with the most problems.
  4. The smarter the person is, the faster he thinks, and the sloppier his handwriting is.
  5. Our emotions don’t affect the way we communicate. In fact, the very opposite is true: the way we communicate has an influence on our mood.
  6. The way a person treats restaurant staff reveals a lot about their character.
  7. People who have a strong sense of guilt are better at understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings.
  8. Men are not funnier than women: they just make more jokes, not caring whether other people like their humor or not.
  9. Shy people talk little about themselves, but they do this in a way that makes other people feel that they know them very well.
  10. Women have twice as many pain receptors on their bodies than men, but they have a much higher pain tolerance.
  11. Listening to high-frequency music makes you feel calm, relaxed, and happy.
  12. If you can’t stop your stream of thoughts at night, get up and write them down. This will set your mind at ease so you can sleep.
  13. Good morning and good night text messages activate the part of the brain responsible for happiness.
  14. Doing things that scare you will make you happier.
  15. The average amount of time a woman can keep a secret is 47 hours and 15 minutes.
  16. People who try to keep everyone happy often end up feeling the loneliest.
  17. The happier we are, the less sleep we require.
  18. When you hold the hand of a loved one, you feel pain less keenly and worry less.
  19. Intelligent people tend to have less friends than the average person. The smarter the person is, the more selective they become.
  20. Marrying your best friend eliminates the risk of divorce by over 70%, and this marriage is more likely to last a lifetime.
  21. Women who have mostly male friends stay in a good mood more often.
  22. People who speak two languages may unconsciously shift their personalities when they switch from one language to another.
  23. Being alone for a long time is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
  24. Travel boosts brain health and also decreases a person’s risk of heart attack and depression.
  25. People look more attractive when they speak about the things they are really interested in.
  26. When two persons talk to each other and one of them turns their feet slightly away or repeatedly moves one foot in an outward direction, this is a strong sign of disagreement, and they want to leave.
Based on materials from 8FACT 


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Psychologists Explain How to Stay Calm In An Argument

“Conflict wreaks havoc on our brains. We are groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. In our (world), we don’t fight like a badger with a coyote, or run away like a rabbit from a fox. But our basic impulse to protect ourselves is automatic and unconscious.” – Diane Musho-Hamilton

Emotional intelligence (“E.I.”) is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” A low E.I. generally leads to an inability to stay calm, resulting in more conflict, while a high E.I. leads to less conflict and an ability to stay calm under pressure

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Even the coolest, calmest, and the most collected person in the room will experience some degree of interpersonal turmoil at some point. In most cases, people don’t have any control over what happens next.

The only aspect of a conflict we can control is how we react. This isn’t to say that overriding this “automatic and unconscious” process is easy; it’s not.

But we can learn to recognize, acknowledge, and manage our negative emotions. We can override, to some degree, this innate physiological response.

We can learn to stay calm during any conflict, including in the midst of an argument.

HERE’S HOW:

1. TAKE DEEP BREATHS

Why: The ability to remain relaxed and centered during a conflict depends on your ability to de-tense the body. Shallow breathing is the body’s innate response when confronted with stress. Quashing this natural response and practicing deep breathing instead helps the body to remain calm.

How: Deeply inhale through the nose before slowly exhaling through the mouth. Smooth, deep breaths will cease the production of two stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol.

2. CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BODY

Why: Concentrating on any physical sensations that arise in a conflict permits you to mindfully change them. When your focus switches to the body, you can feel the tension, shallow breathing, etc. that accompanies stress.

How: When you notice your body beginning to tense, return your posture to a neutral state by relaxing your shoulders and hands. This open position communicates positivity using body language – and often diffuses conflict.

3. ACTIVELY LISTEN

Why: A person will initiate an argument, or some other kind of conflict, if they feel they’re not being heard. Furthermore, it’s impossible to diffuse a conflict without attentive and active listening.

How: When someone is talking, focus all of your attention on what the person says. Ignore any thoughts of constructing a response. Once the person finishes speaking, you have the necessary information to respond intelligently.

4. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

Why: Open-ended questions are invaluable in conflict resolution. First, open-ended questions demonstrate that you are attentively listening. Second, these type of questions show respect for the person by allowing them to articulate their thoughts.

How: Learning to ask open-ended questions can be a bit tricky for some people. The easiest way to avoid asking “Yes” or “No” questions is not to use the words “Do,” “Don’t,” “Did,” and “Didn’t” when asking a question. Instead, use the words “What,” “Why,” “When,” and “How.” Try it now. Notice the difference?

5. KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN

Why: The easiest way to escalate conflict is raising your voice. On the flip side, one of the easiest ways to diffuse conflict is lowering your voice. Voice level is also linked to blood pressure. When BP reaches a certain point, it becomes more difficult to understand what’s being communicated.

How: The first step is to diffuse the initial anger of the other person. You can’t do this by raising your voice. On the other hand, you can quickly impart a sense of calm by making the conscious decision to lower your voice.

6. AGREE TO DISAGREE

Why: Not every conflict will produce amicable or mutually agreeable results. However, you can avoid deepening the conflict by politely disengaging from the conversation.

How: One law of interpersonal conflict is that it takes two participants. Separating yourself from an argument is appropriate under one of two circumstances: (1) the person becomes increasingly hostile, or (2) the conversation, despite your best efforts, is not going anywhere.

In closing, unless you happen to be a self-awareness guru, you will become angry in an argument at some point. Human beings are emotional creatures – and this ability to feel can be used to either our advantage or our detriment. It’s also important to forgive yourself if you should act in an unbecoming manner. We all do – and anyone who says otherwise is either a fool, a liar, or both.

By following one or more of the six tips given, you will assuredly feel more confident in any conflict. As a result, you’ll use your emotions and self-regulation to your benefit. Doing so, you will gain the trust and confidence of people in your good and even temperament.

To our non-argumentative better selves!

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.NOTEY.COM/@HUBSPOTMKTGBLOG_UNOFFICIAL/EXTERNAL/8558555/HOW-TO-CALM-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT-INFOGRAPHIC.HTML?UTM_CONTENT=BUFFER8E58E&UTM_MEDIUM=SOCIAL&UTM_SOURCE=PINTEREST.COM&UTM_CAMPAIGN=BUFFER
HTTPS://HBR.ORG/2015/12/CALMING-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT
HTTPS://WWW.PINTEREST.COM/PIN/324751823116339269/
HTTPS://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BASICS/EMOTIONAL-INTELLIGENCE


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Scientists say the brain purposely forgets certain memories in order to avoid information overload, and emotional hangovers.

  • The only sense that doesn’t fully rest when we are sleeping is our hearing.

Scientists say the brain purposely forgets certain memories in order to avoid information overload, and emotional hangovers.
  • In the Netherlands, workers can be absent for up to two years while receiving 70% of their salary as sick pay.

  • A study found that the heaviest social media users had twice the risk of disturbed sleep compared with the lightest users.

 

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact