Tag Archives: Happy

Best Posts of Jeremiah Stanghini’s Blog in 2013

Last year when I did a best posts series, I ended up doing three different posts. This year, since all of the posts that appear on this website originated on this website, I wouldn’t need to include any posts about Genuine Thriving. My first inclination was to do a best of 2013 and a best of all-time, but after looking at the statistics, the best of 2013 and the best of all-time are essentially — identical. As a result, I decided to just do the one post of the best posts of 2013.

Before revealing the top 6 posts along with an excerpt, there is one thing to keep in mind. On the old site, there used to be only an excerpt shown with the post. So, if someone wanted to read the whole post, they had to click the link (this was just how the theme worked). On this site, however, I specifically chose a theme where folks wouldn’t have to click a link to view the whole post (only to share or comment because those links are on the post’s page). As a result, the statistics for the most popular posts are sure to be skewed because people may have read a certain post more than another, but without them clicking the link for the post, there’s no way (that I know of) for me to know. On top of that, the theme I’ve chosen here allows the viewer to scroll (all the way to the first post!) What does that mean? When you’re on the homepage, you can continue to scroll down and more posts will load… all the way ’til you get to the first post. And in looking at the statistics of the top posts, it’s clear that “scrolling down” is far and away the most popular “post” on this site (this was true last year, too). With that in mind, here they are with an excerpt for each:

The Official Final Jeopardy Spelling Rules [UPDATED]

If you know me, you know that I’m really good at finding things on the Internet. After doing a couple of cursory google searches (Final Jeopardy RulesOfficial Final Jeopardy RulesOfficial Jeopardy Rules), I was surprised that I couldn’t find them. Sometimes, the site that hosts a document like this doesn’t do a good job of using keywords. So, I thought I’d poke around the official Jeopardy site — nothing.

After some more derivations of “Rules of Jeopardy,” I was beginning to think that maybe the rules aren’t online. I thought that maybe the contestants were handed a paper copy that they signed before going on the show and that document wasn’t online. Having never been a contestant on Jeopardy (though I’d like to be some time!) I couldn’t confirm whether this was true. However, given that it’s a game show, I’m sure they signed something before going on the show. Regardless, I didn’t have access to that document.

In The End, Everything Will Be OK – If It’s Not OK, It’s Not Yet The End

It’s no secret that I like quotes. Since converting my Facebook profile to a Facebook page, I’ve gotten into the habit of sharing a “quote of the day.” If my calculations are correct, I’ve been sharing quotes of the day for over 80 days now. As you’ll notice that I also have a quotes category, I’ve shared a number of quotes here on this site, too. And if I think back to the days of AIM (AOL Instant Manager), I often had quotes as my “away” message. And even before then, I remember really liking quotes in high school and in elementary (or grade) school. So, like I said, it’s no secret that I like quotes.

If You Want to Be Happy, Spend Your Bonus On Your Coworkers

That bonus you were looking forward to at the end of the year is “yours” and you should get to spend it on you and your family. Except, research shows that’s not the case. In fact, the research indicates that spending the money on someone other than yourself actually leads to greater happiness. More than that, it can lead to your improved performance at work.

The Confirmation Bias — What Do You Really Know: List of Biases in Judgment and Decision-Making, Part 6

Why is the confirmation bias so loathed? Well, as Nickerson points out, it may be the root cause of many disputes both on an individual and an international level. Let’s think about this for a second: let’s say that in the world of objectivity “out there,” there are any number of possibilities. In the world  of subjectivity “inside my head,” there are only the possibilities that I can imagine. Humans, on the whole, tend to fear change (there are over 600,000,000 results for that search on Google!). In order to allay those fears, I’m going to prefer information that already conforms to my previously held beliefs. As a result, when I look “out there,” I’m going to unconsciously be looking for things that are “inside my head.”

Advancing America’s Public Transportation System: High-Speed Rail in the USA

When it was first announced that the US was going to work on , I was very excited! Growing up in the , I am very familiar with the value of public transportation. I often rode a bus to and from school. As I matured and wanted to explore downtown with my friends, we’d ride the  to get there from the suburban area we lived. Beyond that, when I needed to make trips between Detroit and Toronto, I would ride the  between Toronto and Windsor instead of taking the 45 minute flight. Public transportation is a great way, in my opinion, to feel better about reducing one’s .

Three Lessons from The Hobbit: On Doing What You Can, Having Faith, and Demonstrating Leadership

Anyway, as I was watching, there were a few instances I noticed that could serve as quintessential lessons. Given that The Hobbit is a good example of the hero’s journey, it’s not surprising that there’d be great lessons to be found in the story.

If You Want to Be Happy, Tame Your Expectations

I wanted to finish 2012 with what I think is my biggest “insight.” That is, the thing that I felt taught me the most about myself and other people. As you know, if you follow me on Twitter  Facebook, or read what I write about here (follow button on the right-hand side!), I like to learn. I think that learning doesn’t end once you leave school (whether we like it or not) and I think that learning about ourselves never ends.

I’ve certainly came across quite a few techniques, perspectives, and ways for being in the world and handling stress. In particular, I think that Byron Katie‘s The Work can be quite powerful. While I’ve never attended one of her seminars, watching the videos of people “doing The Work” can have its own cathartic experience.

I’ve noticed that one of the revelations I’ve come to this year is very similar to what Katie has said, but I still feel it to be slightly different. It’s the idea that our expectations about the world are what cause us stress, unhappiness, and you name it. I’m speaking very abstractly, so let me give you a concrete example.

Let’s say I’m having a problem with a coworker. Let’s say that coworker does something that I don’t like. Why does this upset me? Without getting into any psychological underpinnings and staying right at the surface, it’s simply about my expectations of what that coworker should (or shouldn’t) be doing that’s causing me trouble. How? Well, assuming you believe that each human being is entitled to their own autonomy, they have free will to do as they please (within the law, I suppose). If the person is acting in a way that displeases me, it’s probably because I expect them to be acting in some other way — and they aren’t. Again, still kind of abstract, so let’s make it really concrete.

Let’s say that this coworker (by the way, this example works for family, friends, spouses, pets, pretty much anything), has a particular way of answering a question with a question. And let’s say that I find this really annoying (in fact, I’d find it intriguing, but let’s go with annoying, for now). Every time I see this coworker, I’m going to remember that this coworker asks me questions whenever I ask them questions — so it’s going to make me unhappy, just seeing this person! If I happen to need to ask them something and they ask me a question back, I might begin to feel angry. Why am I feeling angry? Simply because my expectations are that this coworker should not ask me questions when I ask them questions. Should this really matter? No! This coworker can ask me questions when I ask them questions — they’re certainly allowed to do that.

Let’s try another example for which I’m sure we can all relate: traffic. Have you ever been sitting in traffic, late for something? I know I have. While sitting in this traffic, do you ever notice that sometimes people will try to “jump the line?” Does that bother you? If I’m being honest, this has certainly bothered me at times. Why should this bother me (or you)? Well, we expect that people will be kind and wait their turn right. We expect… Oh boy — there it is again! Expectations! If I didn’t have expectations that people wouldn’t try to jump the line, this wouldn’t make me upset. I might think, ‘Oh, maybe they’re in a really big hurry. Maybe someone they know is in trouble and they’re trying to go save them.’ It’s really impossible to know why someone would try to jump the line in traffic, so far be it from me to expect something from them in the way that they behave to the other drivers.

So, if I had to choose one thing to offer you from 2012, moving into 2013, it would be your expectations. Notice when you get upset/angry about something and try to discern what it is that you’re expecting should be happening in that situation. If you want to take it a step beyond, try to tame that expectations. Though, for starters, I think it’s important to notice what it is that you’re expecting in a situation. From here, you’ll certainly be well on your way to determining the root of your unhappiness.

Some Key Differences between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life

I saw a earlier today from , who’s a Professor of Marketing at Stanford’s , that linked to a she was a contributing author to: “Some key differences between a happy and a meaningful life.” When I clicked over to see the , it got me pretty excited or a couple of reasons.

The first, it’s going to be published in the . It was during my senior year of undergrad when I first came across  — what I think is a rather brilliant subject. In fact, I was even a of the for a brief time. The second, the lead author: . During my time at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now called, ), I remember reading a lot of . In fact, one of the papers I wrote on “transpersonal belongingness” relied on a .

Anyway, below is the abstract to the paper that Prof. Aaker linked to. If you find it interesting, I hope you take the time to read the whole journal .

Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences. A large survey revealed multiple differing predictors of happiness (controlling for meaning) and meaningfulness (controlling for happiness). Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self contributed to meaning but not happiness. We offer brief composite sketches of the unhappy but meaningful life and of the happy but meaningless life.

The “Secret” to a Happy Life: Psst, It’s not really a Secret at All

I’m still fairly young by most standards, but I’ve had quite a (both formal and informal). In that time, I have learned (at least I’d like to think so) a thing or two about myself and other humans (by way of my time in psychology). Sometimes, I like to sit in a coffee shop on a busy street corner and just watch “us” interact with “us.” It can be quite entertaining — I recommend doing it at least once.

As I watch these people about, I’m struck by the constant string of perplexed faces. More than that, there are a number of folks who don’t look happy. There could be any number of reasons for that, so I won’t speculate, but I will group them together. Meaning, the expression on their face, I would gather, has to do with something they are thinking. This thing that they are thinking causing this uncomfortable expression, more than likely, is unpleasant. Some would even say that .

So we’ve got the group of folks thinking things that are causing unpleasant feelings. I pan to the right and I see a couple arguing on the street. Relationships can be fickle, so who knows what the surface argument is about. The underlying argument, more than likely, has to do with something that one person is thinking. It’s a similar situation to those who are walking down the street with strange looks on their faces, only in this instance, we have the people expressing themselves (outwardly) in an intentional (or sometimes, not-so-intentional) manner.

There’s the folks thinking and walking and then there’s the arguing folks. There are other examples I could bring up, but let’s stick with these two for now.

I’d like you to imagine these interactions, these people walking and thinking or the couple arguing, if both parties (or the singular party) didn’t assume anything. How would the interaction look different if the rule was to “assume nothing.” Seriously now, take a second to imagine the scenario in your head — (I’ll wait). Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Hey, welcome back. What did you notice? Did the interaction take place differently? I bet it did. Let’s take a closer look.

With the people who are walking and thinking, the looks on their faces are evidence of the thoughts they are having. These thoughts are likely about someone (or something) that isn’t going the way they hoped it would. What’s the underlying cause: assumptions. These people are assuming that what has happened wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) happen. If we eliminate this preliminary step of assumption, the reality that exists is no longer at odds. It just is. There’s nothing to be disdainful about. (It’s pretty hard to be angry with reality.)

Let’s move on over to the couple. Let’s say the are arguing about the cost of parking. One person wants to park on the street, while the other wants to look for more inexpensive parking. The one who wants to look for more inexpensive parking may be operating under the assumption that a) there will be less expensive parking somewhere else, and/or b) we don’t have the money to afford this much for parking. Part b) of that sentence assumes that there won’t be more money coming in from (anywhere or more specifically, an unexpected source). Maybe, when they are hanging their coats up at home, a $20 bill falls out of the pocket — boom! Paid for parking.

Or how about another example that I bet most of us can relate to. You’re driving down the highway in the “fast lane” when all of a sudden, you start to come up really fast on someone causing you to slam on your brakes. How dare they make you have to slam on your brakes. Who do they think they are? You may begin to tailgate (I hope not!) or you may slow down or you may try to pass them on the right (again, I hope not!) But what’s the underlying cause for your anger? You may say that it’s because that person shouldn’t be driving slow in the fast lane or maybe you think (as part of the first half of this sentence), they should move over if someone quickly approaches from behind. I went to driving school when I was a teenager and I don’t remember hearing those “laws.” So, what are they? These are assumptions we carry about driving on the highway and we think that people are supposed to abide by our assumptions.

My purpose in writing this is not to make you feel bad about yourself (or your assumptions), but simply to shed light on the idea that there may be some assumptions that are contributing (maybe even causing) you to feel the things you think you are justified in feeling. And in the moment, you probably feel infinitely justified. However, once the emotion has passed, I would encourage you to look back and see if you can identify an “assumption” that you may have been operating under during that time of distress.

Figure Out What You Love – Then Do It

“Our work is how we create and contribute and it’s how we make the biggest difference with our lives.” – Mike Dooley

Often times, I hear about people who don’t enjoy their chosen career. They get up in the morning, realize it’s a work day, and immediately, their attitude about the day takes a downward spiral. They clean themselves up, eat some breakfast, and head off to work. On their way to work, all they can think about is how much they’d rather be spending their time doing something else. So why don’t they?

Maybe the role models in their life were such that they thought they had to live through jobs that they didn’t like. Maybe they witnessed their mother or father coming home after being at work all day only to complain about how much they completely abhor their job. Maybe they didn’t have any role models at all and they are just modelling what they have seen their peers do or maybe… they picked it up from watching movies and/or TV.

While where they learned this habit is an important factor, I think it’s more important to note that their continued usage of this habit when presented with stimuli to the contrary.

There are lots of feel-good stories out there about people who change their careers midstream from something they despised to something that they love. There are oodles of books on the shelves explaining to people how to leave their current job and go work in a job they love. I’ve read quite a few of them and many of them seem to start with the same premise:

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LOVE

This may seem obvious, but authors wouldn’t continue to make money through books aimed at people who don’t like what they do.

There are lots of excuses that you’ll hear bandied about by people who are in jobs they hate, but believe they can’t leave their job because of the money or some other reason. For those people, those reasons are absolutely true – because they believe them. They think that if they quit their job and try to find a new one, they’ll lose out on money they could have been making.

This seems to be a fair point, but I wonder if those people consider the price at which it is costing their mind, body, and spirit to continue to work at a job they don’t like? They spend all day in a ‘low-energy’ vibe and then come home only to need to ‘relax’ by watching TV or doing something completely mind-numbing, only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

If, instead, those people made 20% less money and worked in a job that they loved, they’d be ‘excited’ about the day and enjoy their time at work. They’d come home happy from what they’d accomplished and not need numb their senses through TV or some other form. This positive cycle would continue day after day, rather than the other version of people continuously getting worse and worse.

The jumping off point, for some, contains lots of fear. How will I make money doing something I love? Is it possible? Where will I find this job? All valid questions, but all questions that are based in fear. I believe there is an element of trust in this scenario. When someone trusts that doing something they love to do will reward them – it will. It’s a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I know, but again, there are many examples of people acting in this way and being rewarded.

When it comes to career, the only clear choice is something you cherish doing that will make you happy regardless of the size of your check.