Archives for June 2011

Perseverance – Words to Motivate

Just in case anybody reading this needs a little inspiration, something to give them a kick in the backside, to keep persevering like Frodo did through Mordor even when all hope was gone and he could barely keep his eyes open, here are a few words from Mark Helprin to help:

“From long familiarity, we know what honor is. It is what enables the individual to do right in the face of complacency and cowardice. It is what enables the soldier to die alone, the political prisoner to resist, the singer to sing her song, hardly appreciated, on a side street.”

Honor is doing the right thing – or at least the thing you should do – and not complaining about it, but doing it with pride.  Honor is doing it even if outside forces try to stop you through whatever means, be it force or even just leering eyes.

(And may you never suffer trials as bleak and punishing as those Frodo faced.)

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Wandering Mind, Unhappy State

Does your mind often wander off during the day? I know mine does.  I call it distraction, but I could also call it mind-wandering! That is why meditation is so hard for me. It seems like, no matter how hard I try not to have any, thoughts keep racing through my mind. Well, a study has shown that this characteristic of my personality might contribute to my unhappiness!

Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, two psychologists from Harvard University came up with the brilliant idea of using an IPhone application as the principal research tool for a study on happiness that was published last November in the Science Journal.

This iPhone application, created by Killingsworth, randomly asked 2,250 volunteers from all over the world at different intervals of the day what their level of happiness was, what they were doing and what they were thinking about.

Killingsworth and Gilbert found that people were happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.

The results also showed that people’s minds wandered a lot, regardless of what they were doing: people reported letting their minds wander 46.9% of the time, and at least 30% of the time during every activity except having sex.

The study showed that mind-wandering was actually a predictor of people’s happiness more than the actual activities people were engaged in.

The researchers estimated that only 4.6 percent of a person’s happiness in a given moment was attributable to the specific activity he or she was doing, whereas whether or not a person was wandering determined about 10.8 percent of his or her happiness.

Many philosophical and psychological schools of thought, believe that happiness starts by living in the present moment.  Now, a study has shown the validity of that statement.  So, maybe when your mind wanders off while you’re in the middle of cooking, it is worth bringing it back to the task at hand.  It could make you happier… and, perhaps,  also prevent you from burning yourself or messing up the recipe!


The author is Alina Boutros, who owns a University Master’s Degree in Literary Studies, has been researching happiness for the past year. You can read her daily posts on http://alina-500daystohappiness.blogspot.com

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Too Many Choices: Analysis By Paralysis

Have you ever been in a restaurant where the menu has six pages?  I find it impossible to make a decision.  Whatever I choose, I always end up wondering if I selected the best dish.  Most of the times, my husband laughs at my selection… he believes it often turns out to be the worst thing on the menu!  I hate to admit it, but he might be right!   When there are too many options, I don’t know what to have, so I resort to chicken, the safest, but most common and boring choice.

One thing is certain, our world offers people far more choice than before, no matter the field.  One hundred years ago, women, for instance, didn’t have the freedom and autonomy they now enjoy.  They got married as early as they could, they had children and raised them and they managed their homes.  Their life was drawn for them the minute they were born.   When people went to the movies, there was only one movie showing!  People had no choice!   In a way, it was simpler that way!

I’m certainly not suggesting going back to that period of time.  No woman I know wants to go back to the kitchen full time and have a life of servitude.  However, it is undeniable that this increase in freedom and choice came with a price!

In his 2004 book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz talks about the fact that while individuals are now offered more freedom and choice, depression seems to be taking epidemic proportions.

Schwartz partly attributes that fact to the paralyzing effect of the infinite choice, which, according to him, is extremely exhausting to the human psyche.  It raises expectations (if you have many choices, one of them must be perfect) and it creates dissatisfaction (if you’re buying salad dressing and you’re not happy with your choice, it is easy to imagine the alternatives as being much better than your selection, so you end up unhappy about it).

Schwartz gives 11 ways to minimize stress caused by the debilitating effect of decision-making:

– choose when to choose

– be a chooser and not a picker

– satisfice more and maximize less

– think about the opportunity costs

– make decisions non reversible

– practice an attitude of gratitude

– regret less

– anticipate adaptation

– control expectations

– curtail social comparison

– learn to love constraints

I can completely relate to the fact that the abundance of choice can have a negative impact on happiness!  Probably, because it amplifies the myth that perfection exists.  We tend to believe that if there is such a wide selection, there must be a perfect choice!  The problem is there is no such a thing as the perfect job, the perfect time to have children, the perfect spouse, the perfect house or the perfect meal!  And when you take too much time to make a decision, you miss opportunities!

Analysis by paralysis…. that is what needs to be avoided when it comes to choices!   Choosing means being in motion,… but it has to be done with  no regret and no expectations!  And you always have to be ready to change direction if need be! At least, even if you slightly change your goals, you’ll always feel you’re going forward!


The author is Alina Boutros, who owns a University Master’s Degree in Literary Studies, has been researching happiness for the past year. You can read her daily posts on http://alina-500daystohappiness.blogspot.com

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Work and Play

When choosing a career, when deciding whether to remain in your comfort zone or to break out and try something new, when weighing the pros and cons of taking on a second job or starting a home-based business, remember the words of Gelett Burgess

“There is work that is work and there is play that is play; there is play that is work and work that is play. And in only one of these lie happiness.”

Yes, it’s not just about the money. Without happiness, money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. In fact, after paying for food and basic shelter from the elements, the only reason to have money is for happiness.

Is there some play that you would like to do for work? Is there some work that for you would be play?

My happiness blog will never earn me gobs of money, but I love writing it. I still need a real source of income (my SEO business and my writing business), but it is nice to also have “work that is play”.  And much of the writing that I do for clients is “play”, although much of it is not.

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Living With A Bipolar Parent

First off I should say that my mother was never diagnosed as bipolar but looking back as an adult, lots of research, some basic education in psychology and after speaking to trained professionals I believe it’s a very accurate diagnosis. Your parents and family are meant to be there for you no matter what, they should support you and encourage you and you should always feel safe and protected by them but if you’re growing up with a family member who has any psychological or mental illness this is very rarely the case. You feel like you’re constantly walking on egg shells, you know they’ll be good days but at the same time you know they’ll be bad days too.

You can’t live your life around them

It’s not fair to live your whole life like you’re walking on egg shells but this is sometimes unavoidable. You know it can only take the smallest thing to trigger a storm but at the same time your home life needs to be somewhere you can relax. One thing I found helped was to have a kettle with some powder milk, tea, coffee and sugar in my room and a small box of snacks. Hiding away in your room shouldn’t have to be the answer but if this happens more often than not you need to make sure it’s as comfortable as possible. It’s their house too but there is a very large degree of irrationality to mental illnesses in that they’ll take it out any mood swings on the first thing they’ll see. If you’re not under their nose your life will be easier.

You need a release

No matter if it’s just a half an hour walk round your neighbourhood or you join a local club or activity group find something away from home and away from school that can take your mind off things even if it’s just for an hour or two a week. If you like listening to music really study it and learn to produce it yourself or dance to it. I was never fanatically into music but there were some songs that really had prominent lyrics to me that helped. Reading is also another good way to lose yourself for a few hours.

Look forwards not backwards

This is one I’ve learned with hindsight. Nothing is forever; you’ll grow up, move out and live your own life one day. For now it sucks and there’s a good chance tomorrow is going to suck too but next year or the year after it will get better. Find one thing you’re looking forward to that’s not too far away, going out with your friends, a holiday or even a shopping trip anything that you can concentrate on to take your mind off today. If you have nothing coming up over the next few weeks arrange something.

You can’t blame them for your life

This is one you need to learn as soon as possible and it took me a long time to learn and I’m still learning it today. You can storm around as a teenager and get away with it because ‘my mother never loved me’ but as an adult it’s quite pathetic. You are your own person, with your own personality and ultimately responsible for your own decisions and your own destiny. You might look at your friends who come from loving ‘conventional’ families but the chances are the majority of them have something they dislike about the way their parents raised them. If you want to get an education you can get an education, of course that’s easier said than done but it’s not impossible. My mother’s favourite quote was that I’d never amount to anything. I worked hard at several jobs and put myself through university. It wasn’t easy and I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep for about three years but only a very weak forty year old says it’s their parent’s fault they never made anything of their life.

You can’t hold a grudge

This is another one I’m still leaning today. I don’t think I can ever forgive my mother for some of the things she told me growing up and I’ll have physical and mental scars from her for the rest of my life but as I’ve already mentioned only a very weak adult uses the past as an excuse for the present. There are some things that will be unforgivable but the majority of things need to be left in the past. Now I no longer live at home I have an OK relationship with my mother, it makes me sad that we couldn’t have this mother/daughter relationship when I needed it as a child but I’ll take what I can get now and leave the past in the past.


Jessica grew up to be a happy, well adjusted adult who lived happily ever after (so far) who works as an SEO for a home furniture company

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5 Simple Tricks For a Happy Writer

Many writers find it hard to be happy in their jobs.  For most of them, it is their means to feed their mouths, put a roof over their heads, and pay their bills.  In other words, writing is reduced to being an obligation and not the craft they used to love.  Are you one of these writers?

Believe it or not, writing can be your source of joy and inspiration too.  it can be your means of venting out different feelings and stress.   You may be one of the writers who are currently experiencing a rough patch.

Don’t worry.  The road to happiness is just near.  Get through writer’s depression through the 5 simple tricks below:

  1. Read, read, and read. Reading works of other writers can and will inspire you to write and move others.  You can also acquire ideas for your post through reading.  Even skimming through posts in a newspaper can help too.

Reading can help expand your horizon so if you want something that’s in-depth, try reading books from authors like Ernest Hemingway or contemporaries from Paulo Coelho.  Pick anything that you like best.  It can be a piece or book that you have already read or something new.

  1. Write something that hits close to home. writing something that directly affects you is easier because you have emotions or feelings about the subject that you can use.  it’s just like pouring out your heart and soul to a diary or a close friend.

Or better yet, just tap on any subject that you want to discuss.  Come up with anything that interests you and write something about it.  this way, you are very eager to research about the subject and finish the article with ease because you are “into” the subject.

  1. Trust that you can do it. you will face many stumbling blocks in your writing career.  Editors, webmasters, or article directories will reject your articles.  Or you may be reprimanded by your boss for failing him.

Being a writer is tough.  But if you believe in yourself and what you can do, you will be able to pull this off.  Also remember that you will not appreciate success without failures.  It is normal to fail so enjoy it.

  1. Push yourself to the limits. All writers experience writer’s block.  This is inevitable.  If you find yourself in this position, stand up and take a break.  Inhale, exhale.  Relax and calm your mind.  Then go back to your monitor and start writing again.  Just type in anything.  You will find that creative juice will start to flow in no time.
  2. Be contented with your work. Most writers are never happy with themselves because they are never contented in their output.  I am guilty of this.  Very guilty.  I found out that this only stresses me out.  The point here is that we have to be forgiving of ourselves.  we berate ourselves because we want to give out the best or the perfect article that will impress or at least please everyone.  The truth is not everyone will find your article impressive because this is subjective.  The important thing is that, at the end of the day, you know that you did everything that you can to give the best output.

Writers, failing is inevitable.  This is completely normal.  What’s important is that you learn to stand up and forgive yourself.  Exercise the five tips in this post to keep yourself happy.

Good luck fellow writers!


Author’s bio: Marcy Gray is a writer who strives to reach out to other writers just like her. She also writes about baby care products such as the first years wave stroller and britax b ready stroller. She has been working in the baby care industry for three years now.

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