Archives for November 2008

The happiest show on TV…

…is a blank screen.  According to a 31-year study of 30,000 people, TV sucks.  My wife won’t want to hear this, because she is tired of hearing me lecture about how I would rather do things than watch other people do things.  Of course, my idea of doing things is not always what the study says will bring most happiness, being somewhat of a hermit…

“TV doesn’t really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,” says University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson, the study co-author. “It’s more passive and may provide escape, especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.”

Robinson and his research team compared the activities of people who described themselves as happy with people who described themselves as unhappy.  The unhappy people watched 20 percent more television than the happy people (no word on whether TV makes people unhappy or whether unhappy people tend to watch TV, but the correlation is unmistakable).  Those who considered themselves to be happy were more likely to:

  • be socially active
  • attend more religious services
  • vote
  • read more.

Surprisingly, physical activities and keeping active is not near the top of the list, although that would seem an obvious activity of happy people.

Interesting tidbit: the three articles I read on the study each quote different stats.  Geesh…sloppy journalism.  Here’s the original source:


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How to Influence People Around You

If you want to influence people, give them the right environment.  Of this there is no question.  Most recently, a study confirmed what we all knew about how they cleaned up New York City.  This line from The Globe and Mail a few days ago:

Urban decay is contagious because people generally behave badly when others in their neighbourhood do, say Dutch researchers whose article was published yesterday in the online journal Science.

This principle applies in the home and in the workplace, too.  If you leave things all over the house lying around in a mess or allow employees to get sloppy in their work habits, expect more and more of the same.  You can’t tell your kids to clean up, if their context is a mess.  OK, you can tell them, but it won’t get you anywhere.

On the other hand, if you want people to take pride in their work or keep the house tidy, apply yourself to the task first.  Pick up stuff around the house when others are not around.  And when they are, solicit their help in tidying up.  The tidier you keep it, the tidier they will, too.  And, the more attention they will focus on cleanliness and following rules and generally responsible behavior.

By the way, this is the same psychology I have repeatedly mentioned with regard to smiling.  The best way to brighten up your environment is to smile.  Your smile will be contagious.  And before you know it, you will notice that all those grumpy people you kept bumping into have given way to smiling, happy people.  Try not to bump into them.

Now imagine your home and your workplace.  Neat.  Clean.  Tidy.  And full of smiling faces.

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Help Someone Else’s Memory


Are you frustrated because someone in your family keeps forgetting things or your information just does not sink in? Well, the more ways you deliver the information, the more likely he or she will remember.

Tell him, so that he hears.

Write it down for him to read.

Send a follow-up email (Yes, intra-home emails!).

Leave a voicemail for her, to remind her.

Show the situation in a way that she can act on what she sees, not just on what you tell her you see.

Ask what he thinks should be done. He will remember the conclusion he draws better than any solution you come up with for him.

If there is anything visual, such as a map or a cartoon or a diagram, draw it.  Use color.  Ask him if there is anything to add, as that will focus his concentration on what he sees.

So, “Honey, don’t forget to pick up milk”, “uh-ha” becomes….

1. Honey, don’t forget to pick up milk.

2. Here’s a reminder note (a drawing of a carton of milk … with a smile on it, perhaps)

3. Come to the fridge. See, there’s just a couple drops left, what do you think we should do?

No need to be frustrated when you can make sure that the forgetful one remembers.  And the more ways you communicate, the less chance he will forget.

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Ups and Downs

Another Blog Post one from A Daily Dose of Happiness…and this one is ideal to forward to anybody who might be feeling a little down.  Share it with your Twitter and FaceBook friends, too.  Some of them will appreciate it…

Up escalator. Down escalator. No, that’s not the name of a new Dr. Seuss book. It’s a pairing of two very handy mechanisms that are both quite necessary. True, we could survive without escalators, but we would still need to go up and down stairs…you can’t just keep going up.

In life, we need both ups and downs. If you plan to chase happiness means that you’ll try to avoid all downs, you are in for trouble.

Downs are inevitable. Things happen that just don’t go your way, and human beings are hard wired to react. When someone close to you passes away or just goes away, you are supposed to feel down. When someone hurts you. When a friend fails. When you fail. When traffic is particularly thick or your wallet is particularly thin. There are so many times when you will feel down.

Yes, even the happiest people feel down.

But a happy person does not stay down long. A happy person moves fairly soon from mourning a loss to celebrating a life. From feeling like a failure to grasping the lesson and renewing his determination. From feeling frustrated to just letting the universe unfold.

Up. Down. They are both fine – the question is how long you stay down.

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Value of a smile


A smile is worth a thousand words.

I know, I know. You heard that is was a picture that is worth a thousand words. Well when I tweeted this though (posted at ), one of my followers replied “does this mean a picture of a smile is worth 2000 words?”

Cute. But arithmetic aside, that is not the point. A smile is a picture, but not just an ordinary picture you can snap with a camera. A smile says so many things.

It says, “I’m happy”.

It says “You’re OK”.

It says “I like you”.

It says “Don’t worry”.

It says….well, I’m not going to let this post go on for 1000 words. A smile can mean almost anything, but most of all it is an invitation to explore its meaningWhy not hop on over to Twitter and tell me what else you think a smile says? Just type in @amabaie and say your piece.

Taken from today’s Daily Dose of Happiness

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Time is everything

From yesterday’s Daily Dose of Happiness:


They say that time is money, but it’s not. Time is everything.

No matter what you are doing, you are spending time. You can’t slow down or speed up the pace of the time you spend. All you can do is increase or decrease the value of what you get for that time.  And once you have spent the time, you cannot go back and retrieve it.  Time is a one-way street, and all the flowers you miss along the way are history – memories if you noticed them and missed opportunities if your eyes were shut.

If you are spending a lot of your time in drudgery work or watching a TV or computer screen, maybe you could do something to increase the value of the time you are spending. Perhaps you would like to spend more time with people, more time playing sports, more time philosophizing…whatever you enjoy doing, whatever fulfills you, that’s how you should spend your time. Because whatever you are doing, you are spending it, and even where there is a money-back guarantee, there is no time-back option.

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Health and happiness

From today’s Daily Dose of Happiness


If happiness rests on health, health rests on…four pillars.

1. Nutrition. How we choose to fuel our bodies very much effects our health, and certainly as we grow older it makes a difference how mobile and disease-free we feel. If we fill our bodies with sugar and artificial coloring, will that really make us healthy?

2. Fitness. As I watch family and others age, it is clear that nothing affects their mobility more than their level of fitness throughout their lives. It’s never too late to start, and it’s always too early to stop.

3. Stress. If we feel stressed all the time, it takes a toll on our bodies. We can’t always feel relaxed, but we can take control of our stress and just say “no”. Not always easily, but we can do it.

4. Sleep. Boy, am I in trouble. Sleep affects everything else, and I never get enough of it. When we feel fatigued, we tend to eat all the wrong things, skip the workout and create stress with people around us.

All of these are equally important, but we don’t always pay equal attention to each one. How are you doing with your four pillars of health and happiness?  Is there one, or perhaps two, that you really need to work on?


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Grabbing life by the horns

I love this story in the New York Times.  It tells of   Joel Moss Levinson, a college dropout who can boast of dozens of failed jobs.  So far, he has won 11 contests by creating  homemade corporate commercials, user-generated video content that promotes their brands or their products virally on places like YouTube and MetaCafe.  And so far, he has earned $200,000 in cash and prizes.

Grab Life by the HornsLet’s keep in mind that each one of those contests is a whole new ball game.  You don’t get credit for previous efforts in other contests.  You don’t get seniority or stability.  You have to earn each one with the quality of your work.  Imagine if each month you had to apply for your job, along with thousands of other people.  I wonder how many people would retain their jobs.

What I am trying to demonstrate, is that this is a truly monumental accomplishment for a vagabond dropout.

I am a big believer in education, but I am also a big believer in taking life by the horns and creating your own destiny.  And formal education is not always the same thing as education.  So I salute Mr. Levinson, and perhaps it will be an inspiration to a few other people to jump in and find their calling…especially if they are either job hopping or stuck in a rut where they really don’t get satisfaction.

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