Courtesy of the lovely and wonderful Clare, I bring you this video. It will make you happy, I promise. Enjoy the rest of the day and check back here tomorrow for updates on the University of Arizona.
Posts Tagged ‘happiness’
For those of you out there serious about increasing your own happiness, I will once again recommend The How of Happiness. I am more than half-way through and, of the dozens of self-help, raise-those-endorphins books I’ve consumed in the past decade, this is by far the most practical. It is also the only one that has research directly tied to it (the author gives a suggestion, then tells you what research shows about it), which just gives it the feeling of being more solid than other books I’ve read on the subject. So, first happiness advice for today is get that book.
Second piece of happiness I want to share is this quote:
“(Optimism) is not about providing a recipe for self-deception. The world can be a horrible, cruel place, and at the same time, it can be wonderful and abundant. These are both truths. There is not a halfway point; there is only choosing which truth to put in your personal foreground.”
I LOVE THAT QUOTE!! As a culture, I think we suffer from a “He made me” mentality. We get angry and blame that anger on someone who was a jerk to us. But that’s a lie. We get angry because we CHOOSE to respond to the jerk by getting angry. You can also choose to ignore the jerk. (Caveat: Sometimes, anger is the only response to bullies who try to mug you.) We stress over a lack of time, but don’t want to take the time (ha!) to figure out how best to organize ourselves – and what to let go – so we don’t feel so stressed. Our attitude, in other words, is a choice, perhaps so habitual it is subconscious, but a choice nonetheless about how we see the world.
That said, we often are overwhelmed by negative information and struggle knowing what to do with it all. That can lead to the big killer of happiness: over-thinking/rumination. Now, if there was ever a ruminator, you’re looking at her. I have to constantly fight the tendency to obsess over what bad outcome might be forthcoming. It gets harder each day in this world of 24-7 information – there’s just so much to worry about! I feel like I’m in a reality show for perfection, especially since I heard an interview with the guy behind the No Impact Man blog and film. (Yes, yet another blogger who will become rich off of a movie. No, I am not jealous.)
The no impact guy, a self-proclaimed liberal, decided to live for a year without buying ANYTHING except locally-grown food. He gave up electricity (except solar produced), TV and transportation that could not be accomplished on his own feet or his bike’s wheels, toilet paper and stopped producing garbage. He did this as a married man with a 2-year-old daughter, with a smile on his face.
The interview was inspirational, but also overwhelming. Since I joined the ranks of the unemployed (or the very underemployed, since I did get a freelance assignment from the new downtown magazine Zocalo Tucson recently), I’ve been concentrating a lot on cutting back. But it was an economic thing, not an environmental thing.
I spent my high school and college years in Corvallis, Oregon. I was very big into reusing and recycling and produced very little garbage. When I moved to Texas, I was shocked that people littered and would actually chase these heathens down and ask, waving the litter in their general direction, “Did you drop this?” I was mostly vegetarian, and rode a bike to the newspaper where I worked and to most of my assignments – that was possible in Denton, Texas.
When I married my meat-and-potatoes husband, I brought him along in many of my austere ways, but not all. When we started having children and especially, when we started living on one income so I could be home with those children, austerity became our middle name.
We did everything on the cheap and, in many ways, resembled No Impact Man. We used cloth diapers, hung our laundry out to dry, wore sweaters instead of turning up the heat, ate beans and rice because it is a perfect protein and we couldn’t afford animal protein. We bought used toys, clothing and cars. We recycled, grew our own veggies, made homemade bread, and built beds for our kids – three of whom shared one room for a while. (more…)
St. Frances de Sales, the patron saint of journalists and writers, once said, “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”
I’ve been thinking about statement almost obsessively over the past five days for two reasons: One, I read this article on the “radical idea” of people taking 24 hours of absolute solitude and, two, I got hurt exercising and have been confined against my will as my injury heals.
While every person’s road to happiness is different, there are some things that research shows increase happiness in general, and one of them is a little bit of silence. Not every day, necessarily, and not necessarily for a long time, but some silence sometime. Some of us – the ones already prone to overthinking everything – might actually be harmed by too much solitude, too much “think time.” These folks might be better aimed toward happiness by actively helping other people.
I’m a middle-of-the-roader here: I need both active engagement and time alone, and I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, the need for the latter has increased greatly, something I could never have imagined when I was 20. The times I’ve felt happiest (except for the births of each of my kids) have been when I’ve actually DONE something to help someone out, like when I helped gut houses in New Orleans with a bunch of teenagers after Hurricane Katrina.
I need evidence of my work, to see that I’ve done something concrete to make the world a better place, in order to get the hit of happiness that keeps me going in this life. Writing a check to a charity just doesn’t do it, nor does sitting on a board of a charity that does good work I never touch. I’m a hands-on, get-it-done girl who doesn’t like to be told “No,” or “Let’s have a meeting” or “Perhaps we should pray about it.”
That said, I’ve found that if I don’t have some reflection time – about 60 minutes/week – my hamster-wheel brain jumps from one idea to another with not a whole lot of direction. I need silence, pure and uninterrupted, to prioritize where my energy would best be spent in this world of need.
I think for most folks, distracted by texting, tweeting, Web surfing, IMing, Face Book and every other technological do-dad, a little silence could go a long way toward offering some perspective and peace.
And most importantly, that silence would give us time to think, as opposed to having our brains be constantly revved up by outside stimuli. Great ideas don’t just jump into one’s mind fully formed, all the nits worked out. Creativity – be it in the science lab or the art studio – is fed by the ability to daydream. And daydreaming can’t happen when one’s mind (or a section of one’s mind) is distracted by NOISE.
So, all you happiness seekers out there, some questions for today: Have you ever sought out absolute solitude (no outside stimulation at all, including books) as a means toward peacefulness, happiness or a more contented life? When was the last time you just laid on your back looking at clouds, or, at night, looking at the stars? How does silence – or the lack thereof – affected your overall well-being? Or, are you a person who needs action more than silence for happiness?