I quite like these:
Archive for the ‘On Happiness’ Category
More and more often I’m finding useful tidbits showing up in my Facebook newsfeed. The latest: a piece entitled “8 Habits of Happy People.” They are:
Figure out your strengths, then engage them: According to “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work“: “When 577 volunteers were encouraged to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed than control groups. And these benefits lasted: Even after the experiment was over, their levels of happiness remained heightened a full month later. Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become.” I can vouch for this one — a year ago I started a project to engage my creative, visual side, and it is the single greatest joy-bringer to my days outside my partner (and my cat!).Spend time outside: If you can clock 20 minutes a day outside, studies show you’ll not only maintain a better mood, but your mind will be more open and you’ll improve your working memory too. Sunshine (even the brightness of a cloudy day is often brighter than indoor lights) and fresh air feel good too.Put effort into being happy:Two separate studies in the Journal of Positive Psychology have confirmed that when people actively try to be happy, they raise their baseline moods, making them feel, in the end, happier than those who do not try. According to a release from Taylor and Francis, “In the first study, two sets of participants listened to ‘happy’ music. Those who actively tried to feel happier reported the highest level of positive mood afterwards. In the second study, participants listened to a range of ‘positive’ music over a two-week period; those who were instructed to focus on improving their happiness experienced a greater increase in happiness than those who were told just to focus on the music.”Exercise regularly: All exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which directly leads to a better mood, and if you workout regularly, this mood boost even carries over to non-workout days. Don’t just take my word for it; according to research from the University of Bristol: “On exercise days, people’s mood significantly improved after exercising. Mood stayed about the same on days they didn’t, with the exception of people’s sense of calm which deteriorated.”Protect your health: Good health, on average, leads to a 20 percent gain in overall happiness, so spending time and money improving or prolonging your good health is a wise investment in something intangible but incredibly important.Care for others: People who spend time every month helping others (whether that be animals, people or a space or place you love) are happier. There’s even an immediate effect, similar to a high, that most people feel directly after doing good — including random acts of goodness. “Volunteer work was good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteered were happier and experienced better physical health and less depression,” says Peggy Thoits, a Vanderbilt University sociologist. Other studies have shown that it’s not just happy people who are volunteers — depressed people who do work for others show an elevated mood from the work.Cultivate strong social relationships: whether you have a few close friends, a large and loving family, or strong ties to the community, almost any kind of connection to a social group can improve happiness, according to “The Happiness Advantage”: “Turns out, there was one — and only one — characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships. My empirical study of well-being among 1,600 Harvard undergraduates found a similar result — social support was a far greater predictor of happiness than any other factor, more than GPA, family income, SAT scores, age, gender, or race. In fact, the correlation between social support and happiness was 0.7. This may not sound like a big number, but for researchers it’s huge — most psychology findings are considered significant when they hit 0.3. The point is, the more social support you have, the happier you are.”Hang out with happy people: This can be hard to do at work, where you don’t always choose who you are working with, but you can control the people you spend time with outside your job (and who you pass your lunch hour with!). Just as studies have found that people who exercise with a motivated partner are more likely to stick to workout plans, so do the people around you impact your mood — which means you also impact those around you with your attitude.Feeling like you want to make some positive changes? Here’s a few more — mix and match, and find what works for you. And oh yeah, don’t forget to get some sleep — sleep deprivation bums everyone out.
I usually shy away from re-posting content I see on Facebook. Occasionally, however, I must. For posterity’s sake.
The latest example comes from a blogger named Lindsey Mead, who penned a compelling piece on her blog entitled “Things I Want My 10 Year Old Daughter to Know.” She wrote it for her daughter Grace (I’m deducing), but it applies equally well to sons. I couldn’t have written it better myself:
Grace is rounding the curve to ten. I am not sure how this is possible. In my second month of blogging here she turned four. Now she’s more than halfway to her tenth birthday. It’s irrefutable. I feel ever more aware of her girlhood and looming adolescence, and of all the things I want her to know, as if I could somehow instill values and beliefs into her, like pressing a penny into soft clay. I know I can’t; the best I can do is to keep saying them, keep writing them, keep living them.
Ten things I want my ten year old daughter to know:
1. It is not your job to keep the people you love happy. Not me, not Daddy, not your brother, not your friends. I promise, it’s not. The hard truth is that you can’t, anyway.
2. Don’t lose your physical fearlessness. Please continue using your body in the world: run, jump, climb, throw. I love watching you streaking down the soccer field, or swinging proudly along a row of monkey bars, or climbing into the high branches of a tree. There is both health and a sense of mastery in physical activity and challenges.
3. Don’t be afraid to share your passions. You are sometimes embarrassed that you still like to play with dolls, for example, and you worry that your friends will make fun of you. Anyone who teases you for what you love to do is not a true friend. This is hard to realize, but essential.
4. It is okay to disagree with me, and others. You are old enough to have a point of view, and I want to hear it. So do those who love you. Don’t pick fights for the sake of it, of course but when you really feel I’m wrong, please say so. You have heard me say that you are right, and you’ve heard me apologize for my behavior or point of view when I realize they were wrong. Your perspective is both valid and valuable. Don’t shy away from expressing it.
5. You are so very beautiful. Your face now holds the baby you were and the young woman you are rapidly becoming. My eyes and cleft chin and your father’s coloring combine into someone unique, someone purely you. I can see the clouds of society’s beauty myth hovering, manifest in your own growing self-consciousness. I beg of you not to lose sight with your own beauty, so much of which comes from the fact that your spirit runs so close to the surface.
6. Keep reading. Reading is the central leisure-time joy of my life, as you know. I am immensely proud and pleased to see that you seem to share it. That identification you feel with characters, that sense of slipping into another world, of getting lost there in the best possible way? Those never go away. Welcome.
7. You are not me. We are very alike, but you are your own person, entirely, completely, fully. I know this, I promise, even when I lose sight of it. I know that separation from me is one of the fundamental tasks of your adolescence, which I can see glinting over the horizon. I dread it like ice in my stomach, that space, that distance, that essential cleaving, but I want you to know I know how vital it is. I’m going to be here, no matter what, Grace. The red string that ties us together will stretch. I know it will. And once the transition is accomplished there will be a new, even better closeness. I know that too.
8. It is almost never about you. What I mean is when people act in a way that hurts or makes you feel insecure, it is almost certainly about something happening inside of them, and not about you. I struggle with this one mightily, and I have tried very, very hard never once to tell you you are being “too sensitive” or to “get over it” when you feel hurt. Believe me, I know how feelings can slice your heart, even if your head knows otherwise. But maybe, just maybe, it will help to remember that almost always other people are struggling with their own demons, even if they bump into you by accident.
9. There is no single person who can be your everything. Be very careful about bestowing this power on any one person. I suspect you are trying to fill a gnawing loneliness, and if you are you inherited it from me. That feeling, Woolf’s “emptiness about the heart of life,” is just part of the deal. Trying to fill that ache with other people (or with anything else, like food, alcohol, numbing behaviors of a zillion sorts you don’t even know of yet) is a lost cause, and nobody will be up to the task. You will feel let down, and, worse, that loneliness will be there no matter what. I’m learning to embrace it, to accept it as part of who I am. I hope to help you do the same.
10. I am trying my best. I know I’m not good enough and not the mother you deserve. I am impatient and fallible and I raise my voice. I am sorry. I love you and your brother more than I love anyone else in the entire world and I always wish I could be better for you. I’ll admit I don’t always love your behavior, and I’m quick to tell you that. But every single day, I love you with every fiber of my being. No matter what.
Back from 2013 Ragnar Northwest Passage. It was my fifth overnight relay race (two Hood to Coasts and one Providian), my second as a member of the Sandbaggers. (The first.)
It almost didn’t happen. At least for me.
I had a very strained calf that had at least one member of the Jenkins household telling me I was crazy to run 16+ miles in Ragnar. I decided to give it a go anyway. Everything was fine until the very end of my first leg when I pulled it yet again.
I ran my second and third legs — 4.0 and 8.1 miles respectively — on one leg. Almost literally. I don’t think I scared an eight-minute-mile pace, but I did beat nines. And my outstanding teammates more than made up for the difference.
The Sandbaggers won the Men’s Masters Division and finished 19th out of 373 teams overall. It was the team’s third straight division win, and we did it with five women in a men’s division.