Stop Trying to be Happy

happiness

Want to be happy? Stop trying!

The key to happiness is accept reality and not to imagine some greater version of happiness. Projecting oneself into a better future and striving for something that cannot be just builds a disconnected between expectations and your everyday experience. This dissonance creates unneeded stress and leaves one in a worse state than if they didn’t vie for a “happier” self. Basically, learn from the stoics.

Our standards for happiness can also cause dissatisfaction when they are higher than what we can realistically achieve. If, for instance, we believe that happiness is all about experiencing pleasure—whether by dining at trendy restaurants or taking beachside vacations—then we’ll feel disheartened whenever we’re having an ordinary day. Individualistic cultures like the US and Germany are more likely to endorse these self-oriented forms of happiness, says Brent Ford, a psychologist at the University of Ontario.

It’s far more likely that we’ll feel content when we embrace happiness as a socially-oriented experience focused on finding meaning and purpose through kind acts. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that the simple act of participating in small talk with strangers can hold great benefits.

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James Burke Connections App for Your Thinking Needs

James Burke is known for his series on BBC called Connections, which was all about how seemingly random inventions (or concepts) are actually connected in interesting ways. He has spent his life advocating for people to look at the in-between of industries and fields of research because it is there that we find true innovation.

In our modern era we find that we can create our own filter bubble (which is a big issue with the recent election in the USA) which can make finding connections a problem. Burke’s solution to this is to Kickstarer an app that uses his own specially designed database and cross-references it with Wikipedia in order to help you break out of your bubble and discover cool new connections!

You may have noticed that when we browse the news or type into Google we tend to seek confirmation more than we do information. We predict our current model will remain untarnished. When we want to make sense of something, we tend to develop a hypothesis just like any scientist would, but when we check to see if we are correct, we often stop once we find confirmation of our hunches or feel as though we understand. Without training, we avoid epiphany by avoiding the null hypothesis and the disconfirmation it threatens should it turn out to be valid.

Since the 1970s, Burke has predicted we would need better tools than just search alone if we were to break out of this way of thinking. His new app aims to do that by searching Wikipedia “connectively” and producing something the normal internet searches often do not – surprises, anomalies, and unexpected results.

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Check out the Kickstarter.

We Need the Humanities More Than Ever

Over the last decade or so there has been a big push in North America to get students in to STEM education. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are important to study, but they need to be studied alongside the humanities. The push for STEM is a result of the success of the tech sector and how some parts of society have missed out on that success. However, problems arise when we support one of thinking at the expense of others; now, there is a push to bring balance to the education system by celebrating holistic eduction as much as we did STEM.

Sixty years ago this month, CP Snow’s influential, much-debated essay The Two Cultures was published in the New Statesman. He wrote of a “traditional culture” that was “mainly literary”, behaving “like a state whose power is rapidly declining – standing on its precarious dignity … too much on the defensive to show any generous imagination to the forces which must inevitably reshape it”. He characterised scientific culture, on the other hand, as “expansive, not restrictive, confident at the roots, the more confident after its bout of Oppenheimerian self-criticism, certain that history is on its side…”

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Simplify Your Wardrobe by Wearing the Same Thing

Staying on trend in the world of fashion is hard! It’s hard on individuals and fashion is really hard on the environment. So make things easier on you and the planet by wearing the same thing everyday.

By wearing the same style, not necessarily the same article of clothing, you can make your life easier. Its one less series of decisions you have to make throughout the day and will let you get your day off to an easier start. Plus you can save money!

Men can just wear a suit everyday and get away with it. If you think this is too hard for women, here’s an entire conversation on how you can pull it off.

So if you look at the direct costs of the outfit I wear every day, and the indirect layering-and-replacing costs, I’ve spent about $834.95 in the past 18 months on my work clothing. Which you know what? Is probably what I spent over the course of six months before starting up this whole crazy idea in the first place.

But here’s the thing: this was never about the money. (Or, lol, the “fashion.”)

This was 100% about not having to think about what I had to wear to work every day. Eliminating that one decision saved me hours of stress, and piles and piles of feeling uncertain and awkward and less-than-totally-confident during my day to day. Decision fatigue is real, friends, and I’d rather spend my limited decision-making energy on things that make a real impact, like my work or my relationships or literally anything other than my clothing. I just don’t care about it enough to spend any more time than I have to thinking about it.

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If You’re a Nice Person You Likely Have More Fun Than Others

nice
Some people think that the way to get ahead in life is to be a pushy jerk, and those people are wrong. What you should be is nice. Yup, that’s all it takes. Don’t be like that stereotypical Gordon Gecko wannabe, instead just be.

There is now more research that being a nice person can make your life happier and even more productive.

Notwithstanding the prominent examples today in political and popular culture, the best available research still clearly shows that in everyday life the nice people, not the creeps, do the best at work, in love and in happiness.

Let’s start with the job market. This has been another brutal year in which to graduate. Research from the Economic Policy Institute finds that young college graduates’ underemployment rate is nearly a third higher today than it was in 2007. Everyone is looking for an edge.

That edge is being pleasant and friendly. In one 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, a team of scholars from France and the U.S. looked at the impact of civility and warmth to colleagues on perceived leadership and job performance. In addition to being seen as natural leaders by co-workers, nice employees performed significantly better than others in performance reviews by senior supervisors. For those who make it to leadership, niceness is also a key to success. A 2015 NBC poll found that most people would take a nicer boss over a 10% pay increase.

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