(Un)Happiness

Better Humaning

Breaking the Chain of “Maybe”

It's an epidemic. It's coming for your social life. But there is a vaccine.

There’s a modern scourge upon us, and every get-together, plan, and social event is vulnerable.

I don’t know when it started, who’s to blame, or if it can be defeated, but I’ve begun vaccinating myself against it. And if you or your social circle have caught a case of the Maybes, or you want to prevent an outbreak, here’s what you can do.

The first step with any epidemic is understanding the problem: What is the Maybes, how does it spread, and why is it harmful?

Continue reading → “Breaking the Chain of “Maybe””
(Un)Happiness

The Road Away From Email

A long and winding path with a pot of gold at the end. If I can get there.

I wish I never had to read another email.

This is something I’ve said thousands of times, aloud and in my head (mostly in my head). I’ve said it in anger after opening another death threat. I’ve said it in frustration when an email sent me down a rabbit hole that took me away from a project I had planned for the day. It’s been an underlying sentiment for years, but it wasn’t until recently that it turned into a concrete plan:

I am going to stop reading emails.

But how?

Continue reading → “The Road Away From Email”
Better Humaning

This Flowchart Will Change Your Life

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou

Hahaha — oh headlines. But seriously. You need no flowchart beyond this flowchart. View. Share. Love. Life.

Maya-Angelou---Change-It-Flowchart

(Un)Happiness

My Guitar is My Pacifier. What’s yours?

“This machine [the guitar] kills fascists.” - Woodie Guthrie

Some days, I wake up spooning my guitar. This comforts me, then I realize I could have destroyed it so it terrifies me, then I realize I didn’t destroy it so I’m comforted again. It’s a roller coaster. Other days, my guitar is the first thing I reach for in the morning. I’m still rubbing sleepies out of my eyes while I fingerpick a few notes and think about what I’m going to do with my day.

If I’m having a tumultuous day, or I’m feeling particularly down, or I feel like the world is broken, or if I run out of hummus ingredients, I’ll pick it up, pick some strings, and it will immediately pick me up. Sometimes I only need a few minutes, sometimes I need a couple of hours, but it always works. Every. Single. Time.

My guitar is my pacifier. Continue reading → “My Guitar is My Pacifier. What’s yours?”

(Un)Happiness

You Should Watch the Movie “About Time”

And live the way he learns to live. I did and I will.

I hadn’t really heard much about About Time, the newest Love-Actually-Notting-Hill-Brit-Rom-Com-warm-fuzzy delight. And, to be honest, while I love watching feel-good movies (because they, you know, make me feel good), I don’t generally have high expectations for them. They tend to be rather empty.

This one is not. Continue reading → “You Should Watch the Movie “About Time””

Better Humaning

14 Simple Ways to Treat Every Day More Like Christmas

"First we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle." - Buddy the Elf

Christmas Time is a few days (or weeks, or months, at this point), when a lot of us change the ways we approach our life and the people in it.

There are a lot of positive changes that are part of that shift, things that would likely make the rest of us our year a bit more merry if we were intentional about them all twelve months.

The first dictate in the Code of Elves, after all, is “Treat every day like Christmas.” What would that look like if us humans raised by humans gave it a shot?

Here are some ways to treat every day like Christmas:

  1. Focus on what you can give to others to make them happier. And focus less on taking or giving to ourselves. Giving and making others happy will make you happy.
  2. Be extremely grateful when a restaurant or store is open. Be grateful they are allowing you to give them money for things you want. Don’t take it for granted. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
  3. Sleep in a bit. Snowflake pajamas or jazzy socks optional.
  4. Cook more, and put your heart into it. Microwave and order out less.
  5. Spend time with people you care about. Even if it takes a bit of work, or it’s cold, or you kinda-sometimes hate them, or they smell, or they’re a cotton-headed ninny muggins.
  6. Drink wine. You know, for your heart health.
  7. Play. With a kid. With yourself. Whichever. Just not both at the same time.
  8. Open a present every morning with the enthusiasm of a four-year-old kid unwrapping a present. Which present? How about the present? The gift of a new day! (Too corny? Really? C’mon. I thought that was pretttty clever — no? Okay, whatever, Grinch)
  9. Find ways to laugh. Even if you think a joke is corny. Stop being so damned bitter all the time. Yeah, I’m talking to you. Jerk.
  10. Give more hugs. Hugging makes the world better. Or, if it’s more your style, do it on your twin bed. Regardless, touch [with consent] more people.
  11. Touch more people (in the figurative sense). Give nice cards, say nice things, express your thanks, peace on earth, good will toward man — the whole kit and caboodle.
  12. Eat chocolate. You know, for your heart.
  13. Watch feel-good movies. Or feel-good videos on the internet, or have feel-good conversations. More feel-good = feel more good. You are what your mind eats.
  14. Be conscious of the memories you’re making. And take some photos [with consent].

Have more ideas on how we can live more positively by treating every day like Christmas? Share them with me on Twitter!

(Un)Happiness

The 3 Ingredients to a Happy Existence

"It is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many." - Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica

Intentionality, Mindfulness, and Minimalism are all you need, beyond basic biological requirements (clean water, nutritious food, human touch, etc.), to live a happy existence. This is what I’ve come to believe. I’ll define what I mean by all three, and talk about their relationship to one another, but first I want to talk about “happiness.”

I don’t aspire toward being happy all the time, nor do I recommend it. I don’t think of happiness as existing at the opposite end of sadness, nor do I think that sadness is inherently bad. All emotions have value.

Think of happiness on a continuum with lack of happiness on the other end, sadness on a continuum with lack of sadness on the other end, and so forth. Experiencing happiness doesn’t necessarily make you less sad — The Barenaked Ladies kew this: “I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral.” Continue reading → “The 3 Ingredients to a Happy Existence”

(Un)Happiness

We Fabricate the Obstacles that Stand Between Us and Happiness

We're convinced that there are challenges -- immutable, concrete, biological -- we must overcome in order to be happy. What if we convinced ourselves otherwise?

You sit down in a restaurant, the server comes over and asks what’ll you have. “I would like a double bacon cheeseburger, please. I prefer my fermented milk on top of pig on top of cow on top of cow.” Then the server replies, “No problem, hun’. Just put together this 5,000 piece puzzle Minimalist Sand Dune and I’ll have your order right out.”

Wait what?

That hopefully sounds absurd. You’d never stand for that. “I’ll eat my heart attack somewhere else!” you might yell. But we do stand for that. We put 5,000+ piece puzzles between ourselves and things we want every day, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Continue reading → “We Fabricate the Obstacles that Stand Between Us and Happiness”