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You can stop smoking and lose weight without much effort at all!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
posted by Douglas Keene

Science should make life easier for all of us. And this time, maybe it has (or maybe not). Neuroskeptic has a post on how to stop smoking that they distill down to two words of advice: “Don’t start”. They go on to discuss the reality that most smokers who quit (75%) do so without assistive aids or programs. They simply quit on their own, without assistance. And that’s hard. Smokers who quit have a 75% relapse rate (which is the same rate as recovering alcoholics and heroin addicts).

Another report offers a bit more practical advice: think abstractly. PsyBlog describes recent research by Fujita & Han (2009) who found that if participants engaged in ‘why’ (abstract thinking) to do something rather than ‘how’ (concrete thinking) to do something (like maintain relationships or lose weight), they were more successful in resisting temptation.

The application to litigation advocacy is simple, both in terms of what you tell yourself and what you tell others:

  • Jurors don’t want to rush through deliberations to avoid rush hour traffic. They want to carefully assess the evidence to ensure justice is done.
  • You don’t want to non-verbally react like a snake about to strike when opposing counsel pulls a fast one. You want to communicate a sense of capability and likeability to the jurors and so you prepare internally (in advance) to have a “there s/he goes again” non-verbal response and look quizzical and shake your head before you object.  The head shake could draw a side-bar objection, but the occasional offensive foul is crucial to a win (please forgive a basketball analogy—March Madness has yet to vacate my brain).
  • Expert witnesses don’t ‘want’ to impress jurors with how accomplished and smart they are in their specialty area. Instead, they need to remember the goal of their testimony:  To educate with sincerity and clarity. That’s why they were asked to testify.

You can also (naturally) use this idea to lose weight or stop smoking by focusing on the goal of increased health and lifespan rather than calorie counting or how wonderful it would be to have just one cigarette. Up to you!

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