Archives for July 2008

Happiness research

Over at the Accumulating Peripherals blog, there is a discussion on the pros and cons of happiness research.  Matt offers explains his beef with happiness research and I have commented also on the discussion.

Much of the happiness research out there is based on self reporting.  In other words, it asks you if you feel happy.  OK, so the questions are more complex, but it basically asks for your opinion.  On the one hand, that is poor science, because our perceptions of things are rarely accurate.  A good example is how a couple high-profile crimes can get a city or even a whole country talking about how the crime rate is on the rise and it’s about time we stop the growing menace — even while statistics show that year after year the crime rate has slowly been declining.

On the other hand, happiness is a subjective thing.  It is something we feel, and it could be argued that the only valid measurement of happiness is our perception of it. How could one actually measure happiness empirically.  People try, of course, but what means happiness to one person is not completely the same thing that means happiness to the next person.  So can an objective measure be more accurate than a subjective measure?  Probably not.

Please feel free to go over to Matt’s blog and comment.  And then please come back here and comment, too.

  • Share on Tumblr

Self-help books


There are some people who pooh pooh self-help books, and perhaps it is true that for them reading is not the ideal way to make improvements.  Perhaps some of them don’t think they need to improve, so I won’t argue with “perfect” people (Who could win an argument with a perfect person, anyway?)

I came across this interview with writer-director Judd Apatow, commenting on his first time as a producer and how he learned to manage teams:

The first job I had was creating The Ben Stiller Show.  I was 24 and had no idea what I was doing, so I read all these Stephen Covey books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  They are actually really good!  I haven’t read them since, but I have to say, all the answers were in there.”

Just for the record, reading self-help books is not the best way to make a change in your life. Reading is only part of the equation. When we read, we get information. When we read, we get motivation. But all that is for naught if we don’t follow up what we read with action. Make a plan. Take one step at a time, and keep taking the next steps.

Reading self-help books is nt alone the way to improve your life. But they sure can help.

  • Share on Tumblr

Happiness is travel

Yes, travel opens the mind to new ideas and new ways of seeing things.  And when we experience the wonders of this world, it can’t help but make a person happy.  And some travel opens the mind more than others.  For instance, if you take a tour of seven cities in seven days and stay in hotels, you will find you are passing your time with others from your country and seeing the sights, but not experiencing the people and the way of life.

On the other hand, if you do some work travel or stay in private homes, you are more likely to experience the real flavor of the place.

I took Little Lady for a trip to Hungary, where we saw some of the places her Nagymama grew up.  For a girl of (almost) seven, this was a very educational trip.  We stayed in an apartment and wandered pretty much on our own.  I would classify this as mid-way between a our and a real visit.  Just for fun, here are a few photos.

This is the moment she professes to be the highlight of her trip:

Even though I could tell that it was dancing to the street musicians…

And making new friends…

…even though she could not speak Hungarian with them…

…any of them!

But it was the dancing that she did the most. This was her favorite street musician, whom she patronized several times where Vaci Uta spills into Vorosmarty Ter.

She was a little less freewheeling with the food (can you say “McDonald’s” or “Pizza Hut”?), but we did enjoy palacsinta a few times together.

  • Share on Tumblr