Archives for April 2008

Happiness blog

Michele Moore of  The Happiness Habit is an interesting blogger.  What do I mean by “interesting”?

In modern times, this overused and trampled word is a void-filler.  Two people lost for words at a conference will say, “Whadaya think will happen?”  “Dunno.” “Should be interesting.”  “Yup, should be interesting.” “Yup, interesting all right.”

The ancient Chinese had a curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

But when I say “interesting”, I actually mean “interesting”.  (Sorry to disappoint you.)  Her posts are refreshingly controversial and thought provoking.   Here are just a few examples:

It is this last one that most intrigues me, in Is Happiness for Everyone?, we see a mug shot of a smiling Steve Jobs glaring smugly at the title, as if he knows something we don’t.  The question Michele raises is not so much whether happiness is for everyone as much as whether the pursuit of happiness is for everyone.

“For some of us other things are more important than happiness… security, social significance, power, prominence, or perhaps creativity or making a lasting, important, indelible impact or contribution.”

People pursuing power or creativity, for example, are not necessarily unhappy.  The pursuit of these goals might be what makes them happy.  But the pursuit of happiness might not.  For others, the pursuit of happiness is everything.  But there is a catch for those pursuing power, creativity and even happiness; one person might be almost completely satisfied with his life chasing whatever he wants to chase, because his happiness is in the chase.  Another person might follow the exact same path, but be totally miserable, because his happiness is in the “if only” that he will never catch.  If only I had power.  If only I could be a little more creative.  If only I could achieve this, I will be happy.

If only’s never make a person happy.  Enjoying the journey, the pursuit of power, the drive for creativity, the gathering of happiness; these are the motors that drive our happiness.

  • Share on Tumblr

Self-help for My Head

You might have a funny spot on your head. Or you might have a funny spot in your head. Different types of spots, true…but both could use an occasional tune-up.

Do you have a funny spot?  I do.  It’s on my head.  Sometimes it pops up a week after getting my hair cut.  Sometimes two, or even three weeks later.  And it seems that each time it pops up a little differently.  More than anything, my funny spot dictates when I get a hair cut.

Most of us have funny spots in our personalities, too.  Certain things might rub us the wrong way.  Or in certain situations we might become suddenly shy or clumsy after a while.

Just as my hair needs maintenance to help manage that funny spot, we all need personality maintenance, which we often call self-help.  We need to know what characteristics about ourselves look “funny” or somehow interfere with smooth relationships with others.  And we need to take regular measures to manage those elements.  Chances are, these are not things we can eliminate (although some might be), but simply to keep a check on them so that they allow us to be pleasant to others and function at our best in our community.

Consider this: you give your car regular maintenance, don’t you?  And you are at least as valuable as your car, right?  And you are much more complicated than you car, aren’t you?  And you you don’t even come with an instruction manual, do you?

So make sure to keep you as well tuned as your car.

P.S.  I once had an even funnier spot on my head…

The Eek! hairdo

This post first appeared in A Daily Dose of Happiness newsletter

  • Share on Tumblr

A Poster Girl for What?

When Chloe Marshall, a plus-size model, was named Miss England, it caused a storm of controversy.  Why?  No, seriously, why?

What on earth is this rubbish?

A role model for ordinary women? No, Miss England finalist is fat, lazy and a poster girl for ill health

So Chloe Marshall, a plus-size model, has been named runner up for Miss England. And the debate rages on. Is she fat? Well, she has a little extra fat on her body and she could use to lose it. How much extra you need to be labeled fat, I don’t know, but would you write it out about somebody in big letters in the newspaper. Shame on the Daily Mail and on writer Monica Grenfell.

Is Chloe lazy? You can bet your bottom dollar she is not. Nobody gets to be Miss England (or gets that close) without putting in a lot of effort…especially after failing the mandatory anorexia test!

Is she a poster girl for ill health? I’ll buy that one from a fitness/nutrition perspective, because she is overweight (with a BMI clearly exceeding healthy proportions), but only if her detractors concede that she is no more a poster girl for ill health than 99% of models who show young girls how glamorous it is to be anorexic. The fact is that both anorexia and obesity are dangers women face and both are worrisome. And the modeling industry vigorously promotes anorexia. So taken in isolation, Chloe might be a poster girl for ill health, but taken in the context of the modeling industry, she actually represents a faint glimmer of balance.

(post continues below photo)

Chloe Marshall

What short-sited observers like Monica Grenfell fail to recognize is that nutrition is not everything – that self-esteem and a healthy body image are also important. I do not think Chloe sends a message to young girls (or old girls, for that matter) that they should eat too much. No risk of that.

But in a world whose subtext is to be skinny to get ahead, Chloe is the poster girl for “even if you fail at what everyone else says you have to be, you can still go out and do what you want and even succeed!”

So whether you happen to be born too short or too tall, with wide bones or narrow. Whether you happen to have challenges keeping weight off or pimples off. Whatever physical traits you might have, beyond your control or simply challenging to control, do not let them stand in your way of pursuing your dreams and reaching your goals.  You are more than your packaging.

Go for it!

  • Share on Tumblr

Nutrition for Happiness

What are the world’s healthiest foods? Here is a good list, well organized to make it simple, and loaded with information for those who want the nitty gritty details.

I ran across this list of the world’s healthiest foods.  Of course, every list is subjective, but I like how this particular list is organized.

If you look carefully, the categories are actually in order. They don’t mix the foods from different categories and try to compare apples with…well…bologna, for example.  For instance, vegetables is the first category, whereas natural sweeteners are at the bottom.  Since half our plates are supposed to be vegetables, this makes sense.  If half our plates were sweeteners, I think I might be sick – very quickly.

And if you click on any of the 129 healthy foods, you get a very detailed explanation of why and how it is healthy.  I was surprised to see spices on the list, thinking they were just flavoring eaten in too small a quantity to really provide much health at all.  But I learned better.  I now know that I need just two teaspoons of cinnamon in my cake to get 10% of my daily intake of iron.  Of course, I would have to eat the whole cake (heh, heh).  But even a little cinnamon added to one’s diet helps with several minerals.

READ ALSO: My top ten food picks

Of course, the healthier we eat, the happier we feel, so get cooking with fresh, natural, home-made ingredients.

Healthy eating is an art form

  • Share on Tumblr

Happiness is Gratitude for Safety

There might not be such thing as absolute safety, but our society isn’t constantly living in terror of the next attack. This we will (hopefully) never fully understand. Let us be grateful for that.

In a recent Daily Dose of Happiness I wrote:

SAFETY Having just read an article in Maclean’s called “Butchers and Monsters”, about how the Chinese government bullies the people in the territory it controls, I am reminded of how lucky I am to live where and when I do. I know most of our readers share that luck, but not all.It’s not just that this is a safe place, but also it is a safe time. Most people throughout history have had to live in the shadows of a bully ruler who could pretty much do whatever he chose with peasants in territory he controlled.  Most people throughout history have had to live in fear that a village or kingdom or principality nearby or farther away would invade, loot or otherwise destroy their village.Those of us with the good fortune to be living in times of peace in the land of people will never be able to truly understand how it is to live looking over your shoulder.  But let us be grateful that we will never truly understand. 

Run for your life!

This edition drew a number of interesting comments.  Some were political, such as whether Western media is reporting China with bias and opinions on illegal immigration, which are interesting topics but beside the point.  Others addressed the heart of the topic, essentially questioning the notion that we live in relatively fear-free times/place.  I would like to share a couple of them with you here.

You forget about those who live with sick and mean people. I look over my shoulder 24/7 where I live, for fear of being yelled at, evicted for the flip of a hat reason, chased down hallways… I’m 24 and going to school to better myself so I can leave. Sure, we live in a free country but not all of us live in a free home.

To which I replied…

That is true.  There is no escaping the various characteristics of individuals.  Still, consider that you can go to school.  In Afghanistan, women are still trying to get that simple right, and facing incalculable risks as a result, in many cases from within their own home, but also from death squads roaming the countryside hunting down women who dare to pose as humans.

Which resulted in…

Wow, well I guess you make a good point.. I have read about those women, and my heart breaks at the injustice of it. I do have a crappy home life, but it is true that I am not being killed for trying to better my situation — just put through the ringer in the process, is all. Thank you for the perspective.

Another response from a reader was this one.

Hello “The Happy Guy”I’m responding to your email because I really don’t believe in what you said below – that we here in Canada are all safe.  I think we tend to take that for granted.  I used to think that before 9/11 happened. The people who lost their lives during the 9/11 crisis thought they were safe too.  With our biggest ally at war right now, we never know who El-Qaida (sorry, I don’t know how to spell it) will hit next and how many people will die.

Yes, I agree that we are way better off than Chinese citizens and many other parts of the world, but are we truly safe?  Think about it. 

To which I replied…

There is no such thing as complete safety.  A comet could enter our atmosphere tomorrow and wipe out all life on earth.  The shock over 9/11 is testament to how safe we are, how we can sit back and relax and enjoy life without constant fear.  When something like this does happen, it’s such an aberration that, in addition to the sadness at the loss of life, there is a total shock that it could even happen here.  We really are blessed to be able to live day to day without much fear of being butchered, raped and pillaged, and that we can say pretty much whatever we wish and choose to do pretty much whatever we wish without being brutally assaulted by soldiers or guards for so-doing.

I hope this gives people some additional food for thought, as I believe appreciation is paramount for happiness.

  • Share on Tumblr