About David Bennett

David Bennett is author of seven self-help books, and an in-demand speaker and consultant. Over a million readers per year read his online content, and his writings have been referenced in many publications and news outlets, including Girls Life, Fox News, the New York Times, Huffington Post, and BBC. He also writes for The Popular Teen, and other sites. Follow him on Twitter.

Why You Should Have A Mid-Life Crisis

depressed man

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I honestly hate the term “mid-life crisis.” A guy starts asserting his independence (“I’m sick of working 60 hours a week to buy stuff I hate; I’m changing jobs”), questioning a narrative that didn’t make him happy, gets in much better shape, buys a car he has always wanted but couldn’t have afforded until recently, starts hanging out with fun friends instead of ones that whine all the time, and expresses interest in dating someone younger, and suddenly he’s “in crisis.”

In fact, maybe going through a mid-life crisis is a good thing. Because look at the state most guys in their thirties and forties are in: hating their jobs, stuck in romantic relationships where they are little more than walking wallets, out of shape, living vicariously through their children, making their wives and children miserable, relying on pills and/or alcohol to get by, and the time spent hanging with friends (if they have friends) consists of complaining about their current lives while glorifying the “good old days.”

In reality, the real crisis is that a guy let himself deteriorate emotionally, physically, and socially to such a degree that attempting to change his life from that deterioration is considered a crisis to those around him.

Sadly, most middle age guys can relate to a lot of what I have just said, even if it is only when secretly reading this article at night, when nobody is watching, for fear everyone will figure out the happy, perfect life they pretend to live is really a sham.

Many guys “went with the flow” and did things they thought would make them happy because everyone told them that’s what happens. They went into debt for a degree they barely use, took out a mortgage they couldn’t afford, and reluctantly worked a job they really didn’t like because they convinced themselves it would just be “temporary.” They knew these things wouldn’t make them happy, but they did them anyway.

So, it is no surprise that some guys wake up one day in their thirties and forties and can’t keep up the dissonance. They start to look for ways to be happy and free again. So, maybe it isn’t a mid-life crisis, so much as a mid-life awakening, and it just seems like a crisis to those who still get up each day and know they’ll hate every minute of it, but pretend to those around them that they don’t.

A mid life crisis isn’t just a human thing either: great apes go through them as well. The hypothesis of the researchers who figured out that apes go through mid-life crises is that going through them is actually a good thing, what I am saying here. They are the brain’s way of motivating a person (and ape) to utilize resources and opportunities while they are still available. Without sounding too morbid, it may be a kind of “this is your life’s peak, so use it or lose it” type of thing.

While this article is geared toward men, trust me that I know that women go through the exact same things I mentioned above: settling, living fake and unhappy lives, staying with unappreciative kids and spouses, etc.

Of course, I am not advocating abandoning your family, or acting like an immature teen again; however, I am saying that questioning a narrative that hasn’t worked, no matter how late in life, is not a crisis so much as an opportunity.

Joe Dispenza, author of Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself, has a great interview about this very thing, from the excellent movie People Versus The State Of Illusion which I have embedded below.

When Is Blue Monday 2017? How To Overcome The “Worst Day of the Year”

So, did you know that there an official “worst day of the year?” Well, there is according to some experts at least. It goes back to 2005, when Dr. Cliff Arnall calculated the most depressing day of the year.

Based on his calculations (listed below), the worst day of this year, Blue Monday, falls on Monday January 16th, 2017.

So how did Dr. Arnall figure out that this date in late January is extremely depressing? Here are his reasons:

– Post-Christmas debts are due, so our debt is the highest of the whole year
– In the northern hemisphere, weather conditions are often at their worst (gloomy, cold, and unpredictable)
– Most people have already abandoned their New Years resolutions and are back to old behaviors
– We have had time to emotionally consider that the joy of Christmas is over
– Our motivation level is low because of the cold and gloom
– We don’t have a lot to look forward to in the immediate future (very few work days off, more cold is ahead, etc)

So, theoretically, for a lot of people this is the “worst day of the year.” However, you don’t have to succumb to Blue Monday, and let me explain how to deal with each of these issues related to “Blue Monday.” Also, scroll down for a funny video about how to beat the winter blues in under 30 seconds!

Conquer Blue Monday 2017 Cold and Gloom

Even though it’s cold, try to get outside and get some sun. Bundle up and walk out that door, especially on a sunny day! Buy some thermal wicking clothes so it doesn’t feel so cold!

The Sun shining through a cloudSince your childhood, you’ve probably heard that you can “catch a cold” from going out in the winter. This sounds logical, but the scientific truth is that most winter illness is caused by being inside too much, because it leads to the spread of germs from person-to-person much easier. I run and hike on cold days frequently, and I always feel better for it. Others agree with me, so get out.

Also, there are always sunny days in January. If you can’t get outside, go to a window, close your eyes, and face the direction of the sun. The field of vision behind your eyes will glow bright red. Scientifically, this causes a release of serotonin, the brain’s happy chemical. If you can’t get light any other way, there is evidence which suggests that indoor blue lights can improve your mood.

Avoid Racking Up Debt

Many people cover for the lack of true happiness by buying a bunch of cheap crap. If buying things in December causes you to be depressed in January, then don’t buy them. Many experts suggest getting rid of things you don’t use (de-cluttering) will actually make you happier than collecting things you never have time to enjoy.

Work on your internal attitude, and you’ll find that you don’t need a lot of external things to be happy. This is basic Buddhism 101, but other religions teach simple living free of attachments as well. A lot of people find that being around others, having friends, etc, are more meaningful than material things anyway. I’m not saying you should become a monk, just that if you’re buying more than you can afford, you need to evaluate your priorities.

Find Joys In The Moment; Plan Things To Do

Sure, Christmas has passed by Blue Monday. But…you can celebrate and have fun every single day. Find something fun to do and look forward to. Plan things that give you hope. Every day (without exception) plan something to do that you like. It can be taking a drive to see beautiful snowy scenery, getting coffee with a friend, going on a hike, going to a concert…anything.

Plan a party if you have to. I suggest getting a calendar and writing some of these things down, so you have these “hopeful” things there for you to see whenever you need a reminder of why you are happy this winter.

After a past Christmas I planned to see an old college friend in February. I looked forward to it all January, and it gave me hope I otherwise didn’t have. Another fun thing I planned recently was to take work off early and meet a friend at a local restaurant. We loved seeing each other in the afternoon. We were both a little depressed about heading back to work after Christmas, but this meeting made it more bearable.

Unfortunately, society works us up in a social frenzy near Christmas, and then everything just stops. The lights, festive music, and social gatherings not only vanish, but they vanish in a mere day. Then, things get “back to normal,” which, for most people is very depressing. This is why it is important to schedule things to look forward to. It keeps us hopeful and happy. We also offer specific tips for Post Christmas depression.

Re-Boot That Resolution

I have been a member of various YMCAs for nearly fifteen years. I’ve seen people go “all out” on January 1st, to stop everything by January 15th. In reality, something more realistic is in order. Instead of going crazy on January 1st, only to burn out two weeks later, try coming up with something more sustainable.

Also, understand that it is never too late to get back on track. If you’ve given up on your resolution, then get back today. Make a mid-winter resolution. Make a new month resolution. Call it whatever. I strongly live by the principal that “there is no failure, just feedback,” if you have the right attitude. Let your early January setbacks help you create new goals and actions starting in mid-January. And, stick with them the whole year!

Overall, the basic message here is that “Blue Monday,” the “worst day of the year” is only blue and horrible if you allow it to be. The pitfalls I’ve listed don’t have to be your reality. Besides, blue is my favorite color. Have a happy Blue Monday 2017!

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Beachbody Insanity Max:30 Review

insanitymax30As many of you know, my brother and I have written reviews of quite a few Beachbody products, including Shaun T.’s Insanity, Asylum Volume One, and Asylum Volume Two. These products have played a major part in my weight loss and fitness journey.

When I found out that Beachbody had a new Insanity product, Insanity Max:30, I wanted to try it out. It definitely sounded like it was ideal for my fitness goals and busy schedule.

I have to admit, I love Shaun T.’s workouts. They mix intensity, aerobic training,  and muscle development, and they vary enough to keep me interested. Plus, Shaun has a cool personality, that both encourages you and kicks your ass.

Max:30 continues this trend, with the express purpose of shortening the Insanity workouts down to a very intense 30-minute period. It has the same benefits of Insanity, i.e. it has a lot of variations, intervals, and utilizes your body instead of relying on free weights or bands (like the Asylum program does). The major difference is this contains new moves (although a few from the original Insanity show up), and there are far fewer breaks .

This is a great idea, because there are many days doing a full Insanity won’t fit into my schedule, and a 30 minute, no-fluff workout is just what I need. On other days, particularly the summer months, I feel like running, and am just too tired to do a full Insanity or Asylum along with the running. A half-hour version of Insanity is perfect for these situations. And, the ab program is only ten minutes allowing for an even shorter option!

Before I get into each workout, I want to briefly discuss what I don’t like about this product. The main thing I don’t like is that I am never a huge fan of diet materials that come with these products, especially when they are big, full-color, and glossy, and thus raise the price of the whole package, when I honestly just want the workout.

I follow a low(er) carb, low(er) calorie program that works wonders for me. I basically have this aspect of my life in control. Their advice isn’t bad, but it seems to focus a little too much on getting rid of fat rather than carbs. I know that is standard advice, but research is rapidly shifting in the direction of lower carb/higher fat diets being better, which is what I have found.

Another drawback is actually the same as this product’s strength. The thirty minute length, while great in many contexts, means it can’t fill the need for a longer workout. This is partially addressed by the ten minute ab workout. On heavier days, I combine this with some running (such as run a few miles after or before), another workout, or even something from Asylum or P90x.

Below I review each individual disc. If you are interested in knowing how many calories you burn in these workouts, definitely check out our Insanity Max:30 Calories Burned page.

Bottom line on this product: Great, intense program for people who need to fit a workout into thirty minutes.

Month One

Cardio Challenge

This is thirty minutes of challenging aerobic sequences. Remember, unlike the regular Insanity program, there aren’t very long breaks. This is very intense cardio with a lot of differing moves, both on and off the floor (I hope you like being in the plank).

Sweat Intervals

This title definitely lives up to its name…you will sweat! It is intense. Again, it’s a great mixture of standing and plank/push up workouts. You will get your heart pumping and your core strengthening.

Man doing a bicep curl, sepia toneTabata Power

This is based on the concept of doing work for 20 seconds, then resting for 10 seconds, based on a study in the mid-1990s by a guy named Dr. Tabata that showed a huge exercise and calorie gain benefit to using this ratio. The workout starts out with some warm-up exercises, then goes into the 20:10 ratio, starting with legs, then focusing on the upper body and core, and back again. Each change from work to rest is signaled by a bell with a countdown noise letting you know a few seconds before the change is coming. The workout ends with a straight burn out, with no rest time. The rapid pace makes it go quickly (or as quickly as an intense workout like this can go).

Tabata Strength

This is very similar to “Tabata Power,” and that review basically applies here. The “rest” for most of the program is actually jogging, but between some of the upper body and core exercises, it is going into “child’s pose.” Either way, you don’t get much of a rest. This session focuses will work virtually every part of your body and leave you sore, especially the parts with “V” push-ups. I could barely move after this one.

Friday Fight: Round 1

This is an intense, non-stop workout with only two short breaks. It is basic intense interval training with core work included. This workout, like its month 2 sequel, is the toughest and most intense of all the workouts because of its non-stop and varied nature. I was dripping with sweat by the end.

Month 2

Max Out Cardio

This workout has some very intense cardio, but truthfully it isn’t much greater than the Cardio Challenge workout from month one. It is still good of course with an assortment of challenging moves. However, I was expecting a little more from the second month.

Max Out Sweat

Like the similar workout from month one, yea, this will make you sweat like crazy. The workout is intense plyometric exercises, which take you all over the place, from the floor, up, and back again, with a lot of jumping. The various cycles of moves end with “power moves” which are even more intense than the previous workouts. Even in the winter, in my cold basement, I still broke a sweat. That is amazing! Shaun T. said at the end of this workout that it is the most intense one he has ever led, and I believe it.

Max Out Power

This is a more intense version of the Tabata workouts. Instead of the “30 seconds on-10 seconds off,” this workout extends the “on” time to 45 seconds, increasing the intensity decently over the first Tabata workouts. The bell and countdown information from the earlier workouts apply for this one.

Max Out Strength

This one is pretty intense, continuing the “45 second on-10 seconds off” pattern. It starts with some leg exercises, which while not seeming intense, really are. In the summer, I run roughly 20-25 miles a week. I am a veteran of Insanity, Asylum, and Asylum 2, and this still made me so weak in the legs I was cramping. Then, the workout moves to upper body work, with crazy sets of push-ups and core exercises that left me struggling to stay in the game. You get a few 30 second water breaks, and a little bit of break for 10 seconds here and there, but sometimes the “break” is jogging! Wow.

Friday Fight: Round 2

Billed as “the hardest workout ever,” this is one crazy thirty minute period of exercise. It is a great way to finish the program. You only get two thirty second breaks. These are some insane and complicated moves too. I think they worked almost every muscle in my body!

Bonuses

Ab Attack

This is an intense, concentrated abdominal workout with no breaks. It lasts 10 minutes. It will get your abs very sore. I have been doing the regular Insanity and Asylum ab programs and this workout still wore me out. It is awesome.

Pulse

This is a low impact mix of stretching and “pulsing.” It isn’t super intense, but it is enough to make you burn.

Did you find this helpful? Will you please consider clicking HERE to order Insanity Max:30 from Amazon?

A New Year’s Reminder: Every Day Is A New Day

2017 is just a few days away, and people are already focusing on New Year’s goals and resolutions, and sadly, struggling to keep those goals.

Last night I was visiting my parents and ended up overeating. I ate a lot: two hamburgers, peanut butter, microwave popcorn, and some candy bars. Instead of using their weights, which I had thought I would do, I sat around and watched TV. It was me going back to an old pattern I had when I lived with them, before I had lost 20 pounds and gotten in shape. As I went to bed, I wasn’t very happy with myself.

But then I woke up, and as part of my morning meditation (from Chanting From The Heart) I was reminded:

Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion

This is a reminder that every day is new. Every moment is new. And this is important to remember when you are setting goals and resolutions and fail to stick with them.

The past is a collection of memories, experiences, and emotions. While I am not downplaying the difficulty of dealing with problems in the past, the past doesn’t exist. The “failure” to  eat right yesterday. When you checked out your toxic ex’s profile a few days ago. When you were too busy to go to the gym. Those are now memories clouding your ability to do the best right now – today.

No matter what you did yesterday, or even ten minutes ago, the now belongs to you, the best you. So get back on the track you want. Think of this whenever you reach the end of a day you feel like you didn’t reach your goals. The next moment is always yours.

Three Reasons Men Should Date “Offline”

man looking at laptop computer

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A lot of men go “online” to date, because..well…why not? Virtually everything is done online, from buying books to ordering a pizza, so dating online makes perfect sense…right?

I believe online dating can be worthwhile, if it is done properly (and most guys make the same mistakes online they make offline, so most guys aren’t doing it right).

However, I believe you should be putting just as much effort into your offline efforts as you do towards your online efforts, and here is why.

1. Women Don’t Pre-Sort You

Online dating sites allow both sexes to pre-sort partners. This means that if you aren’t making six figures,  six foot tall, or live in the Bohemian section of town, you are out of luck.

That’s right, you don’t even have a chance to engage her or let her see your charm, because you aren’t even showing up in her searches.

In real life, attraction doesn’t work this way. Look around at the men women actually date. Typically, it isn’t a guy straight out of a fairy tale, or a dude that has “passed” her  20-point checklist for manly perfection. Yet, online dating encourages women to turn attraction into a checklist thing, and only the best guys are going to meet her standards.

The problem with being “pre-sorted” is that you don’t even have a chance to show her that you are an excellent and attractive guy, even if your hair color or height doesn’t meet her ideal requirements.

Sadly, online dating takes something messy and emotional (attraction) and turns it into something clean and logical, which may explain why so many people complain that online dating doesn’t work.

2. Body Language Counts

Online profiles only allow a little body language analysis, if you get the right photos, and generally, they are going to be photos that make her look especially good. Also, when communicating with her online, you are totally left relying on her written words, and written words can be edited and re-edited before they even arrive in your inbox.

Body language can be masked to some degree in person, so as to be deceptive, but not as deceptive as written words can be. So if she is crazy or playing games with you, you may or may not be aware of it, because it’s much easier to be coy through messages. Also, sometimes girls are shy or not great with words, so you may think she isn’t into you through messages, but online you could be reading the clear signs that she is.

Also, meeting in person allows you to show her your body language. Since most communication happens through the body (as opposed to words), how you hold yourself in person can make a big impact. Sadly, you can’t have this impact online.

3. You Can Touch Her or Look In Her Eyes

Studies show that touching others, even as simply as brushing your hand against theirs when handing back change, makes you more likable. Another study has demonstrated that making sustained (but non-creepy) eye-contact strongly increases attraction between two people.

Notice I didn’t say “if the guy was tall, and he made eye contact, he was more likable” or “if he made six figures, eye contact made him more attractive.” Using touch and eye contact appropriately can give you a huge dating advantage, and natural charmers and seducers know this well. Sure, you can charm and seduce with words online, but without touch and eye-contact, you are without two important tools in your attraction arsenal.

Online dating removes this very important element.

Ultimately, online dating takes away chemistry. Two people may be perfect for each other, but you would never know it if attraction is reduced to check boxes and algorithms. Plus, the sheer volume of messages women receive means that they have to sort through guys quickly and based on words and a brief profile glance. In real life, this isn’t how it works.

So, while online dating may be easier and expose you to more people (not a bad thing per se), online dating has many drawbacks, especially for men. Maybe it’s time to give old-fashioned offline dating a try!

Guys, Attracting Women Boils Down To This One Factor

two businessmen

Image courtesy of stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Figuring out what men find attractive is relatively easy. Men assess attraction visually: we are (generally) attracted to younger women with pretty faces, bigger and shapely boobs, some bodily curves, and thinner and fitter bodies.

Sure, a few guys have fetishes for other stuff, or some “nice guys” might deny it, but, science, polls, raw online dating data (see Dataclysm), the behavior of women (applying make-up, photo tricks to look thinner with bigger boobs, etc) and uninhibited private male behavior (e.g. the extreme popularity of 18-21 year old thin girls in pornography) all confirm what I just said. I’m not making a case that this is “moral” from a religious or cultural standpoint, or even leads to quality relationships: I am just stating the facts of raw, initial attraction. And, men can certainly grow to like a woman based on personality traits.

What women find attractive in guys is an altogether different matter. It seems like women are more confusing about what they prefer. Do women prefer physically attractive guys like David Beckham or Chris Hemsworth? Yes.

Or do they prefer certain personality traits like confidence over looks? Yes.

Or do they like guys with money? Yes.

Famous guys? Yes.

Manly men? Yes.

Men who dress sharply? Yes.

Bad boys? Yes.

Felons? Yes.

Tall guys? Yes.

Who the heck knows??? Yes!!!

The unifying factor seems to be that women find guys attractive that have power, or “status,” “social dominance,” or “the ability to provide and protect.” I (kind of) made this connection to power in a past article directed to shorter guys when I mentioned women probably are really looking for testosterone instead of height, but that height may be a “quick indicator” for high testosterone. It is very possible that the “power” I am going to discuss is simply a synonym for a man with a lot of testosterone (and low levels of the stress hormone cortisol), since leadership and testosterone seem to go together.

James Dean CigaretteHeather Remoff, who wrote about her own research in the book “Sexual Choice: A Woman’s Decision- Why and How Women Choose the Men They Do as Sexual Partners,” agrees that power is the main factor women find attractive in a man. This may sound shallow or antiquated from a female perspective, but it really isn’t. Replace the general term “power” with traits like “independent,” “not a mama’s boy,” “well-educated,” “in control of his life,” “confident” and suddenly I think many women, even the strongest of feminists, will nod their heads in agreement that they like men like this. In fact, many of these traits were specifically mentioned in Remoff’s research.

The attraction to power explains why women’s sexual preferences are so elusive. According to Remoff, “power” is subjective, and it depends on what an individual woman associates with power.  I believe this is a mix of biology and social factors.

So for some women, it could be a man’s age, but for others it could be his income. Some women may associate power with a guy being a daring bad boy in a leather jacket, or even a criminal, while others see their charismatic professors or teachers as the ultimate sources of power. Still others may view fame as an ultimate source of power, or a man’s marriage, or perhaps him being her manager at work. Some guys can go from “friend” to “crush” in her mind through a one-off act that signifies power, like standing up to an authority or being heroic under pressure. Other women are attracted simply because a guy is a “man in uniform”or a rugged country boy.

For all women, power seems to be showing that a guy is totally non-needy: he is excellent at what he does, and doesn’t care what others think about him.

This also explains why certain male physical traits are preferred among women. In the older parts of the brain, men seem to be attracted based purely on visual input, whereas women take visual inputs as indicators of a guy’s power. For example, masculine faces (signaling strength), pretty eyes (think powerful eye contact), a deep voice, charm, tallness, and being muscular are all good indicators of power, since these help a man achieve power.

The desire for power may be why women are more attracted to images of guys looking serious as opposed to smiling, or even why a book like Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular despite being taboo for a variety of both conservative and liberal reasons.

Why power? Power indicates a man has the ability to care for the woman and her offspring. Evolution seems to have worked to ensure that men are attracted to fertile women (young women with a .70 waist to hip ratio are more fertile than fifty year old overweight women) and women are attracted to men that can ensure she and her child are protected in the wild. This all may seem crazy in a modern egalitarian environment where women don’t need “protected” from much of anything, but in the context of hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, it makes perfect sense.

Most of these desires aren’t even consciously considered, since they are seated in older parts of our brains, making the reality of attraction seem even more irrational. No wonder the ancient Romans viewed romantic attraction as the result of getting randomly shot by a mischievous baby-god.

The biggest male losers in this “game of attraction” are low-status men, or even guys with status but who fail to convey it. The quiet and passive guys who are simply “cogs in the machine” of life and at work (or aren’t even that) lose out. Even some high-status guys can be pretty poor at actually conveying power, which is why some millionaire nerds can’t get a date, despite waving their money at women.

So, while we suggest guys look their best, increasing their perceived power is a better strategy for becoming more attractive and admired. In fact, a recent study confirmed that a dominant personality was a better predictor of the number of sexual partners for men than being classically good looking. So, let me repeat: being powerful is a better strategy for getting a date than looking good (for guys at least). I should note that neither we nor this study are suggesting rape or sexual assault is power or a dominant personality. Physically forcing yourself on a woman, i.e. acting without consent, is illegal and immoral.

If we had to describe how we help guys, it is really helping guys increase their status and power. Truthfully, since attraction happens in older parts of our brains, a guy doesn’t even have to actually have power; he just has to project it. This is why we suggest guys “fake it until they make it,” through body language changes and development of their “avatar,” discussed in Chapter 6 of our book Be Popular Now.

Faking power is easy really, with certain body language and attitude modulations (intelligence, charm, humor, etc). This is why a bad-boy Wal-Mart stock-boy could come across as more attractive to his female co-workers than a socially awkward millionaire tech start-up owner awkwardly asking for her help in the automotive department. However, the best strategy to project power is to fake it and make it, by actually getting accomplishments. The millionaire tech nerd who develops some social skills will ultimately be more attractive long-term than the reckless Wal-Mart stock-boy who will be burnt out (or dead) by thirty, neither very attractive to women.

So guys, you have to have power and convey it to ultimately be a master at dating. And, the more angles of status and power you can work (physical, income, authority), the more likely you are to succeed with a diverse group of women.

Step one is to develop general displays of power, like assertiveness, confident body language, dressing sharply, and being charming. Step two, done concurrently with step one, is to cultivate positions of power and status within your social, hobby, and career circles.

This combination of self-development will have women practically throwing themselves at you. If you don’t believe me, think of Justin Bieber, who despite being shorter than average and slightly awkward looking, represents power to millions of pre-teen and teen girls, or even Donald Trump, who despite his controversial attitude, goofy comb-over, and ugliness, dates models that would never give nicer and more attractive guys without a goofy comb-over  the time of day.