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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Journalist David Brooks has some good advice for happiness:

“I can’t resist concluding this column with some kernels of consumption advice accumulated by the prominent scholars Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson. Surveying the vast literature of happiness research, they suggest: Buy experiences instead of things; buy many small pleasures instead of a few big ones; pay now for things you can look forward to and enjoy later.” (ThinkProgess)

– novelist John Crace finds happiness in football and his new book explains how  being a lifelong Spurs fan helped him through depression:

The one inarguable gain as that season came to an end was that I was still alive, something you may take for granted but I never have. I had made it through another year. It’s good to have a few constants in my life. After my mum and sisters, Spurs is the longest relationship I have ever had, and it’s an infinite source of enrichment: Spurs show me how to win and lose, how to say hello and goodbye. From 90 minutes to a lifetime. (The Guardian)

– Jonah Lehrer writes about how to find happiness by pursuing the right dream:

Perhaps you want to invent the cure for malaria, or bake a perfect baguette, or create the next Facebook. Whatever – don’t apologize for your obsession. Just be grateful you are obsessed with something, that you’ve found a goal worth getting gritty over. Because if your goals ever feel tedious, if you find them as unnecessary as that last bite of chocolate cake, then you’re never going to put in the necessary work. Grit requires passion. Grit requires love. And love is just another name for what never gets old. Love is the opposite of underwear. (Wired)

the post-it war makes me happy

– as do holidays (they also make you more productive)

So make sure you take a break and enjoy the Labor Day weekend.

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National Geographic has launched a series of articles on the world’s population reaching seven billion this year. Some of the fascinating facts from the magazine :

“In 1975 only three cities worldwide topped ten million – today there are 21 such megacities.

Before the 20th century, no human had lived through a doubling of the human population, but there are people alive today who have seen it triple.

There are more than twice as many people on the planet today as there were in 1960.

The current population of the planet could fit into the state of Texas, if Texas were settled as densely as New York.”

– a 50-year anniversary:  The Tyranny of Defense Inc. in The Atlantic recalls President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address on January 17, 1961. He warned Americans of the dangerous rise of the “military-industrial complex”:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. Any nation that pours its treasure into the purchase of armaments is spending more than mere money. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

To emphasize the point, Eisenhower offered specifics:

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities … We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

– defence spending is not on the list compiled by Nobel Laureates of eight very small investments that will help the planet the most, number one being micronutrients;

– from The Social Animal in the The New Yorker:

I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments. Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.”

– New York makes me happy even though it is the most unequal city in the most unequal state in the most unequal developed country in the world.

Have a good weekend.

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Declaration of the thirteen United States of America, July 4, 1776

The above phrase is famous from the Declaration of Independence but a Brazilian Senate committee has also approved making the pursuit of happiness a constitutional right;

– happiness to me would involve travelling so check out this fab interactive map of fictional and factual greatest journeys;

– more cool images: this year’s best underwater photographs ;

– and what New Yorkers complain about ;

– New Yorkers may use their cell phones to complain but Bill Gates writes about how scientists are exploring ways of using them to deliver much needed healthcare in developing countries;

“For example, Peter Lillehoj and Chih-Ming Ho of the University of California, Los Angeles, received a grant to develop a disposable malaria biosensor based on a SIM card platform. The SIM card-biosensor will allow malaria detection to be performed using a cell-phone, which will make diagnostic testing more widely available in rural and remote areas.”

– more making a difference : Jimmy Pham, the Vietnamese Jamie Oliver,  has helped 400 homeless children become cooks;

– and Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens drew on his own experiences with the Japanese after World War II to speak about tolerance.

Have a good weekend

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“Earthquakes and aftershocks: the things that turn us into brothers, the glue that binds our broken country together.”

Beltrán Soler, a seismologist in Alberto Fuguet’s novel The Movies of My Life

He would have to add the miraculous rescue of the 33 miners who were trapped underground for 69 days to that list. I will never forget watching the rescue of the last few miners online and seeing the messages of joy pour in from around the globe. However much politicians might try and exploit our differences, I think this evidence of our common humanity is much closer to the truth.

China’s Charter 08, in honour of the Nobel Peace prize winner, also refers to universal human values:

“Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.”

– promoting freedom of another kind: Love Commandos, a group of volunteers in India rescuing couples whose lives are in danger because they want to marry someone from a different caste;

– a battle for freedom that was fought 50 years ago: Janice Mack Guess tells her story as one of the children who helped desegregate public schools in North Carolina;

– a senior financier admits that in rich societies many of the most highly paid people devote their skills to activities that cannot increase human happiness;

– cracked.com includes wealth amongst its 5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won’t) ;

– Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s installation in the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern;

Carl Warner’s amazing food landscapes.

Have a good weekend.

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If you want just one piece to help put life in perspective, the article by Christopher Hitchens is it. Have a good weekend.

– Hitchens manages to remain sarcastic and funny while writing about his cancer diagnosis:

“Of course my book hit the best-seller list on the day that I received the grimmest of news bulletins, and for that matter the last flight I took as a healthy-feeling person (to a fine, big audience at the Chicago Book Fair) was the one that made me a million-miler on United Airlines, with a lifetime of free upgrades to look forward to. But irony is my business and I just can’t see any ironies here: would it be less poignant to get cancer on the day that my memoirs were remaindered as a box-office turkey, or that I was bounced from a coach-class flight and left on the tarmac? To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?”

– photographer Cheryl Koralik writes 100 words on her work and pictures of love. She includes a wonderful quote from Martin Luther King, Jr :

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”

– on a similiar theme Reuters has a slideshow of couples on the New York subway;

– love is surprisingly not included on the 10 things science says will make you happy ;

– working too hard is definitely not one of them. PickTheBrain has four ways of working smart which I should try to stick to more often;

– one Californian couple find the route to happiness is living with just 100 personal items.

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Some inspiring reads from this week – have a good weekend.

– things the grandkids should know;  this wonderful list is full of things everyone should know;

– I would add tweet less, kiss more to the list: “Let’s put down at least some of these gadgets and spend a little time just being ourselves”

life is 10% how you make it and 90% how you take it;

– on the same theme Harvard Business Reviews asks How Will You Measure Your Life ? This rang very true and is one of the reasons I left banking to make (a lot) less money as a journalist but which still remains one of my better choices:

“People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.”

– The Smithsonian’s 40 things you need to know about the next 40 years;

– No 40 on the list is reading becoming an athletic activity :

“Books were good at developing a contemplative mind.  Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking.Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote.  Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. In books we find a revealed truth; on the screen we assemble our own truth from pieces.”

This week Amazon said sales of electronic books for its Kindle e-reader were more than hardcover books for the first time so this prediction looks likely to become true in a lot less than 40 years.

– amazing photos of Chinese performance artist Li Wei: “I break through gravity in my pictures, I act like a meteorite“;

– hope I can conquer Kilimanjaro when I’m 82.

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Last week I was lucky enough to spend a week with some old friends. We have known each other long enough that I went to their wedding and this year is their 20th anniversary. In addition I’ve had the absolute pleasure of watching their two sons grow up and develop their own wonderful, and very different, personalities.

Being able to go on vacation and being able to spend it with good friends made me feel very blessed – and reminded me of a couple of things I have read recently about happiness.

– for a daily dose of happiness check out the 1000 Awesome Things blog which manages to come up with an awesome everyday thing every single day;

MP Mueller, a breast cancer survivor, writes about attending a fundraising event:

“Surrounded Saturday night by women bravely dealing with this unwelcome visitor, that jolt came back — the reminder that life is indeed fragile and short. (How do we manage to forget?) Doing what you truly love each day is the difference between existing and living. Are you doing what you truly love? If not, how can you get there? Are you passionate about your work? Do you have a dream you own, a purpose? If not, take the time to reach into your soul and define one. Embrace it and strut down the runway of life with all you’ve got.”

– Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, spoke about the economics of happiness in a commencement address at the University of South Carolina:

“Happiness is just one component of the broader, longer-term concept of life satisfaction, and only one indicator of how the fabric of our lives is being shaped by our choices and circumstances. I am reminded of a story about Abraham Lincoln. According to the story, Lincoln was riding with a friend in a carriage on a rainy evening. As they rode, Lincoln told the friend that he believed in what economists would call the utility-maximizing theory of behavior, that people always act so as to maximize their own happiness, and for no other reason. Just then, the carriage crossed a bridge, and Lincoln saw a pig stuck in the muddy riverbank. Telling the carriage driver to stop, Lincoln struggled through the rain and mud, picked up the pig, and carried it to safety. When the muddy Lincoln returned to the carriage, his friend naturally pointed out that he had just disproved his own hypothesis by putting himself to great trouble and discomfort to save a pig. “Not at all,” said Lincoln. “What I did is perfectly consistent with my theory. If I hadn’t saved that pig, I would have felt terrible.”

The story points out that, sometimes, happiness is nature’s way of telling us we are doing the right thing. True. But, by the same token, ephemeral feelings of happiness are not always reliable indicators we are on the right path. Ultimately, life satisfaction requires more than just happiness. Sometimes, difficult choices can open the doors to future opportunities, and the short-run pain can be worth the long-run gain. Just as importantly, life satisfaction requires an ethical framework. Everyone needs such a framework. In the short run, it is possible that doing the ethical thing will make you feel, well, unhappy. In the long run, though, it is essential for a well-balanced and satisfying life.”

– in the same vein Umair Haque puts together a Betterness Manifesto for the Harvard Business Review :

“Consume less. Do you really need another pair of designer jeans, three soy mocha Frappuccinos a day, or a bigger TV? Really? Betterness happens not through naked, aggressive consumption of disposable, mass-produced stuff, but by learning to spend your hard-earned cash on smaller amounts of awesome stuff that’s made with love, ethics, and passion.”

I shall have to put some thoughts together for my own life satisfaction manifesto. Sometimes it is the smallest things such as being in the supermarket today and seeing that People magazine’s latest issue features the 50 Most Amazing Bodies.

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