The Happy Guy https://thehappyguy.com Inspiration. Tips. Finance. Priorities. Happiness. Sun, 18 Oct 2020 00:34:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Let’s end disposable plastic containers in Canada https://thehappyguy.com/end-disposable-plastic-canada/ https://thehappyguy.com/end-disposable-plastic-canada/#respond Sun, 18 Oct 2020 00:33:16 +0000 https://thehappyguy.com/?p=3937 Plastic can be useful. Disposable plastic is almost always wasteful. Canadians, it’s your turn to make a difference and put an end to disposable, single-use plastics in Canada.

The government of Canada has proposed to end some disposable plastics, and it wants to know what you think. Do you think it wants to ban too many types of disposable plastic, or do you think it should ban even more?

To be honest, the government is proposing to ban more types of single-use plastic items than I expected. But the list falls far short of what could be done, and some of the most wasteful and easiest to ban disposable plastics did not make the list.

This is where you can help.

Time to ban single-use plastic containers in Canada

The Government of Canada is asking for your feedback:

This discussion paper is seeking input on a proposed integrated management approach to plastics to take a number of actions, including regulations which would be developed under the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).

 
Here’s a link to the discussion paper:

Parties wishing to comment on any aspect of this paper, including the categorization of single-use plastics and proposed management approaches, are invited to provide written comments to the Director of the Plastics and Marine Litter Division of ECCC by December 9, 2020 at ec.plastiques-plastics.ec@canada.ca.

 

Yes, you can help change the course of disposable plastics history. Here is what I suggest you do.

Let’s ban single-use plastic containers for soap, shampoo, conditioner, hand cream and tooth paste

These are soooo easy to get rid of that it’s almost a no brainer. For more details, here is my blog post on these single-use plastic containers.

Then, write to the Director of the Plastics and Marine Litter Division of ECCC by December 9, 2020 at ec.plastiques-plastics.ec@canada.ca.

Not sure what to say? Here is what I wrote:

Dear Director.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products: discussion paper.

You are off to a great start, so thank you for the effort you and your team put into reviewing the wide array of wasteful plastics Canadians use daily.

Please add soap, shampoo, conditioner and hand cream bottles, as well as tooth paste tubes to your list. Indeed, you could add any personal care product that comes in a liquid or cream form.

All these products are available in unwrapped bars right now. Indeed, the majority of soap is already sold this way. It would take a matter of months for factories to re-tool and sell their products in less-polluting bars. There is no reason these products need to be wrapped in disposable bottles.

Furthermore, manufacturers could easily dispense liquid shampoo and conditioner, as well as hand cream, soap and toothpaste, at point-of-sale. We do this with gasoline. We do this with beverages at the cafeteria. We don’t throw away the old gas tank when it comes time to fill up, so why throw away a shampoo bottle when it’s time to fill that up?

There are options for every type of consumer. There are options for industry.

Bonus: shipping all that shampoo and conditioner to stores in solid form, or even in bulk for dispensing, will reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, helping the Government of Canada to meet another important planet-saving goal.

I look forward to seeing an expanded list that includes these “low-hanging fruits” in 2021.

 

Don’t copy my words; use your own. Add to the list if you can think of other products that come in single-use containers that could easily be replaced. Refer to your own feelings and your own experience. Tell the government how you would prefer to buy these products in some way other than in a disposable bottle. A single personal letter is worth more than hundreds of form letters.

Canada is a democracy. We get our say between elections on important issues like this. There might not be this good a chance to make a difference in reducing plastic waste for another decade or two.

So take a few minutes to make a big difference now, while the door is open. Send your comments to ec.plastiques-plastics.ec@canada.ca today.

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Top 10 bad products we buy that are destroying our planet https://thehappyguy.com/10-bad-products-destroying-planet/ https://thehappyguy.com/10-bad-products-destroying-planet/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2020 19:30:05 +0000 https://thehappyguy.com/?p=3848 Everything we buy has an impact on the environment. But some things bring us little value, even if they are “convenient”…and some of those are pure waste! So why buy them in the first place?

Sometimes we struggle between the pursuit of convenience and the need to protect the environment. But what we carelessly call “the environment” is our life support system. So, it’s important to to keep convenience in perspective.

Would you pee in the swimming pool, just because it’s convenient?

Don’t answer that.

Here is my list of top ten brainless products that should be banned. They pollute our life support system while adding little, if any, real value. When we buy them, we are peeing in the swimming pool. Let’s call them “Satan’s Little Helpers”.

Single-use plastic bottles

Disposable shampoo bottles

Consider the life span of a shampoo bottle. You buy it, along with the shampoo inside. Eventually, you use up the shampoo. But the bottle is as good as new. So what do you do with that bottle? Best case scenario is that it gets recycled. Or it goes into the recycling stream, but ends up in a landfill. Or, worst case, it goes straight to the landfill.

But the bottle is still as good as new!

You don’t throw out your gas tank when you run low on fuel.

You don’t throw out your fridge when you run low on food.

Why throw away your shampoo bottle when you run low on shampoo?

The answer: because the stores refuse to sell you the shampoo without the bottle. Seriously, go to Walmart and try telling them you need a refill. “No thanks. I don’t need a new bottle. Just the shampoo, thank you very much.”

Good luck!

Disposable shampoo bottles should be banned. Same for conditioner bottles. And moisturizing bottles. And tooth paste tubes. And laundry detergent bottles.

In fact, all disposable containers could easily be banned, given a few years lead time for industry to re-tool. Isn’t it nuts that disposable containers exist at all?


Why are disposable bottles still allowed for shampoo, conditioner, hand cream? #ZeroWaste
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Disposable dryer sheets

This might be less known, but there are substitutes for disposable dryer sheets, such as aluminum balls or wool dryer balls.

I use a sheet made out of fabric from PurEcoSheet that I won in a contest years ago (I wish I knew what the fabric is).

With any of these options, you don’t even have to put them in the dryer or take them out. Just keep them there.

Never think about putting in the dryer sheets.

Never make the effort to throw away the old dryer sheets.

Never pay for dryer sheets again.

And never create needless waste from dryer sheets.

Do they work? Ours do. We never have static in our clothing. Bonus, we never have unnecessary chemicals wiping off our clothes onto our bodies, either.

As an aside, when you buy disposable dryer sheets, the store will force you to buy a new box each time, too.

Wet wipes

Let’s see. We have cleansers galore at our house. You probably do, too.

We have plenty of rags, as clothes often wear out. You probably have them, too.

We are blessed to have the miracle of hot and cold running water at our house. Bet you do, too!

So why does anybody need pre-wet disposable “wipes” to clean counters, wash hands or wipe down any normal household surface? Sure, you might not want to throw a cloth full of heavy machine grease into your laundry, but all other rags are 100% washable.

Disposable wipes are nothing but garbage, wrapped in extra plastic (yes, they make you buy new plastic wrapping each time)! Don’t buy them.


You have cloth, soap, water – what do you need disposable wipes for? #ZeroWaste
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Paper Towels

Like wet wipes, these are totally useless. How many trees are cut down each year to create disposable rags? How many clothes – rags in waiting – are placed in the garbage each year? ‘Nough said.

Zipper seal bags

Let me preface this by saying that zipper seal bags and similar products are not necessarily evil. Yes, they are disposable, but that’s just how they are marketed (to keep you buying more of them).

I‘ve used the same zipper seal bag – rinsed weekly and occasionally washed – for my daily cut vegetables for several months at a time.

Don’t put meat or cheese in them; that makes them hard to wash and re-use. Use them only for non-oily things and they are very handy. Unlike hard containers, they adjust to the shape and size of space available in your lunch box.

And if you are canoeing or hiking, they will keep things dry (and if you add lots of air, your passport will not only stay dry, but also float when your canoe capsizes).

Don’t hold your breath for TV ads explaining how to extend the life of your zipper seal bags. Just do it on your own. Else, they are just more disposables polluting our planet.

Plastic shopping bags

This is the du-uh item on my list. Twenty years ago, my wife and I were the only ones shopping with reusable bags at the grocery store. Now everyone does.

Well, not quite everyone. Can you believe that 500 billion plastic bags are still being given or sold for a nominal fee each year? With an average usage of 12-15 minutes each? That it takes 60 million barrels of oil to make those bags…each year? Obviously, neither the urge to avoid peeing in the communal pool, nor the “hefty” five-cent fee (where a fee is even charged at all), are dissuading shoppers from using disposable bags at grocery stores.

And how often do you see anybody bring their own bags when shopping for clothes or hardware or toys or anything else?

It’s time to ban disposable bags.

Not plastic disposable bags – all disposable bags. There’s a lot of research suggesting that paper might be as bad as plastic when life-cycle environmental damage is calculated.

Oh yes, with a ban on disposable bags people will stop forgetting to bring their bags. Occasionally, somebody will still forget, of course. At that point, they can decide to buy a new non-disposable bag at a more reasonable $2.00 price. Or they can decide to just carry out their goods.

There are options beyond disposable grocery bags. And fashion store bags. And hardware store bags. This one is just a no-brainer.

Individually wrapped packages

How many times have you bought a box of some food product, only to find that each item inside is individually wrapped, or wrapped in pairs? Cookies, crackers, snacks – there is no need for this. All that extra packaging only serves to pollute more, both by filling landfills after being used and in polluting the air when the plastic is being manufactured.

Consider the cereal box. Inside is almost always a plastic bag. Why two layers of packaging? I started buying Nature’s Path cereals because they use only one layer of packaging for many of their cereals. The cereal comes in its bag, and the branding and other information is printed on that bag – no need to put the bag inside a box.

Now Nature’s Path is working toward fully reusable packaging, along with delivery and collection of that packaging, through a service called “Loop”. We’ll be watching to see how that works out.

Disposable plastic cereal waste

All packaging?

Did you notice that a lot of this is about packaging?

Although the items I list here are mostly no-brainers – packaging that is so obviously useless and polluting that it makes one’s head hurt just to look at it – almost all packaging could and should be eliminated. There are very few things we buy that actually need a disposable wrapping, whether it’s food wrapping or personal care bottles, shoe boxes or hybrid plastic-cardboard toy wrappings.

It is interesting to note that when California banned plastic grocery bags, it led to an increase in paper bags and in thicker disposable garbage bags. In other words, the plastic was bad, but the ban should have covered disposable bags of all kinds. It’s not so much the plastic, but the disposable aspect that hurts our planet.

Disposable dishes

You are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned straws. Straws have been in the news a lot. Companies are moving from useless disposable plastic straws to useless disposable paper straws – going from worse to bad is at least in the right direction.

Or is it? Are paper straws better for the environment than plastic straws? If the research into paper versus plastic shopping bags I mentioned above is any indication, that answer is a resounding…umm…maybe?

Others have stopped serving straws altogether. Bravo!

Is this a big deal?

Based on the media attention, you would think so. But in the entertainment industry, magicians call this a “sleight of hand.” Everybody keep your eyes on the straws. See how good we are eliminating straws? Isn’t it amazing? Nobody look at the disposable cups the straws come in. Or the disposable plates and wrappings.

Let’s look at some facts:

Straws make up 4% of the pieces of plastic waste. That sounds like a lot, but straws are tiny. Altogether, they make up 0.0002% of the mass of plastic waste. Not even a drop in the bucket.


Straws are just 0.0002% of plastic waste. Let’s end single-use disposable cups, containers, bottles. #ZeroWaste
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The 500 billion disposable cups they come in each year are made typically of some combination of plastic, carton and styrofoam. A reusable coffee mug (or juice, or smoothie or whatever cup) is more environmentally friendly than a disposable one after 6 to 127 uses (even factoring in the environmental impact of washing them).

We haven’t even begun to talk about disposable fast food plates, containers, cups and cutlery.

Straws are not the problem. No, your company is not amazing for eliminating straws. Your company is a HUGE polluter for pushing a non-stop torrent of pollution out your front door every day.

Of all the dishes and containers that fast food restaurants use, the easiest to eliminate tomorrow – yes, tomorrow – are beverage containers. Pass the law and BYOC (bring your own cup).

Hopefully Canada’s upcoming plastics ban will include the cups, not just the straws, and hopefully it will ban them regardless of the material – replacing plastic with paper or some other material isn’t going to fix the problem.

Drive-throughs

Drive-thrus are a double waste. This is because people using drive-throughs are not only polluting for nothing, but are often inflicting self-harm, as well. In this sedentary society, do people really need another reason to sit? They could make their coffee at home. They could walk up to the counter. Or they could sit in a vehicle with the engine running and pollute for nothing.

Drive-throughs are responsible for burning 57 million gallons of gasoline in the US alone each year. Even on the coldest Canadian winter days, there is no reason someone needs to sit in their car, running the engine, while ordering coffee or a burger or a muffin.

Or doing banking.

Or picking up a prescription.

What can you do?

Actually, there is a lot you can do. In almost all cases, you can avoid these useless polluters. I know there are people in my household who insist on using paper towels and going through the drive-through. But that doesn’t mean I have to.

And you don’t have to, either.

You have a choice.

In the long run however, it will take more than you and I to turn this boat around. Society will have to move past the disposable-for-profit (planned obsolescence) business model.

In the meantime, why would you pee in the swimming pool?

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Three reasons why wearing a mask protects you from coronavirus https://thehappyguy.com/wear-masks-protection/ https://thehappyguy.com/wear-masks-protection/#comments Sun, 17 May 2020 13:18:09 +0000 https://thehappyguy.com/?p=3894 Experts will tell you that a mask doesn’t protect the person who wears it from coronavirus and COVID-19. But the experts are wrong. Here are three reasons why.

If you’ve been paying any attention around you over the past few months, you will have heard the experts switch their advice on wearing masks several times. Maybe wear masks. Don’t wear masks. Wear masks.

The one message that has been (relatively) consistent is that wearing a mask will protect people around you, but not you.

That statement is half right. And half wrong.

Before I get to the three reasons the advice is wrong, let’s look first at how the advice is right

Masks do protect you from infecting people around you

A mask does indeed protect you from infecting people around you with coronavirus and COVID-19. Let’s look at how it does this and why you really should care enough to wear one.

When you cough or sneeze, and even when you just talk, you emit thousands of tiny droplets. Just one minute of talking could spew out as many as 100,000 droplets, lingering in the air for ten, 20 or even more minutes. If you have the coronavirus in your system, even if you don’t know it, the virus is in those droplets.

Health experts have rightly identified wearing a mask as protection against spitting or sneezing out these contaminated droplets onto:

  • other people’s faces
  • other people’s hands and arms
  • other people’s clothes
  • counter tops that other people might touch
  • the air that other people will breathe

By wearing a mask, you do indeed protect people around you.

But why should you protect them, you might ask? Here are two good reasons.

Protect other people because it’s neighborly

Imagine that you are driving at dusk. You know there might be pedestrians around, but probably not. You can still see without your headlights, but if you turn them on you’ll be better able to see pedestrians, even those foolishly wearing grayish clothing.

What do you do?

Of course you will turn on your lights to reduce the risk of accidentally murdering a fellow citizen. You’ll do what you feel you safely can to avoid killing raccoons or foxes, too.

Bottom line: you don’t want to kill somebody, even by accident.

So, if wearing a mask can help you avoid accidentally killing somebody, can there any better reason to wear one?

Protect other people to protect yourself

Ah, but there are other reasons, including a very selfish reason to protect people around you.

If you accidentally infect someone around you, they might in turn accidentally infect people around them. As long as we keep passing this virus around, it can end up with anybody. I’m sorry if this is too graphic, but it could end up killing a friend of yours or even a member of your family.

Or you.

You might have heard of immunity. Once you get the virus, you might supposedly be immune. “Might.” “Supposedly.” The fact is that we just don’t know. And other coronaviruses, typically known as colds and flues, come back year after year. If immunity exists, we have no idea how long it lasts.

And if immunity exists, we don’t know if it applies to somebody who is asymptomatic. You might be carrying the virus (novel coronavirus) without being sick (having the disease called COVID-19), and therefor not actually building up immunity.

The bottom line is that if you have this virus in your system and you infect somebody, you have no idea if you will kill somebody, who you might kill or how many people you could kill.

So, wear a mask to protect yourself from infecting and possibly killing people around you (including yourself).

Masks also protect you from other people around you

This is where the experts get it wrong. In fact, they aren’t even thinking through some of the most important parts. While they talk about only one way masks protect you, there are in fact three ways masks protect you from getting infected by people around you.

Masks protect you from airborne infection

This is what the experts talk about and disagree about. Many of them say that masks don’t protect you from airborne droplets.

Let’s look at the facts.

Masks have holes in them. They are porous. That’s how you can breathe through them. Unfortunately, droplets can also go through those tiny holes along with the air.

Regular medical masks and cloth masks have bigger holes that let in more droplets than those fancy N95 masks that healthcare workers wear. With those bigger holes, are they useless? Studies are mixed.

  • First, the mask will stop the bigger droplets.
  • Second, it will stop even some smaller droplets that hit the fabric.
  • Third, it will stop two or three droplets trying to pass through a hole at once (picture the Three Stooges all trying to pass through a window at once).

Three stooges trying to go through a window

If a mask stops some, but not all, of the droplets, does it matter? Most likely, yes. The best guess is that you are less likely to get sick if you are exposed to fewer microbes, but we don’t know for sure and we don’t know by how much.

As retired public health specialist and epidemiologist Dr. Felix Li puts it:

While there is abundance of scientific evidence that surgical masks can protect health care workers from droplet-transmitted diseases, including COVID-19, some health authorities still maintain that somehow the same mask cannot perform the same function for the general public?

Are they all not human beings, with the same general anatomy and physiology? Let’s be frank: Masks can protect all people against droplet-transmitted diseases such as COVID-19. The only difference here is that the general public has a relatively lower risk of exposure to the virus than health care workers.

If you go into a crowded place, such as a bus or an elevator, your risk of exposure gets much higher.

 

Stop touching your face

Masks protect you from touching your face

But here’s another reason to wear a mask that nobody is talking about – and the silence from health experts on this is really puzzling. It’s how masks protect you from getting infected by yourself.

A mask keeps you from touching your face.

Did you know that you probably touch your face 15.7 times per hour. Or 23 times per hour. And it’s next impossible to not touch our faces.

Do you know what else you touch in between face touches?

  • counter tops
  • door knobs
  • gas pumps
  • elevator buttons
  • hand rails
  • products on store shelves

When an infected person coughs, sneezes or even just talks, guess where their droplets land?

  • on counter tops
  • on door knobs
  • on gas pumps
  • on elevator buttons
  • on hand rails
  • on products on store shelves

They also touch their face 16 or 23 or however many times per hour, and then they also touch…

  • counter tops
  • door knobs
  • gas pumps
  • elevator buttons
  • hand rails
  • products on store shelves

Almost everything in a public place could be infected, and you will touch many of those things. Yes, even shopping carts and bus poles and seats and turn styles and pens and paper and so many other things that others might have touch before you or breathed on.

Wearing a mask protects you from putting your potentially contaminated finger or hand near your nose or mouth. You might still touch your face, possibly even your eyes, but your have hugely reduced your risk of infection by keeping your nose and mouth covered.

In fact, a mask might be as effective at protecting you in public places as hand sanitizer. Perhaps even more effective.

Back off!

Masks protect you from people getting too close

There is a third reason to wear a mask. It acts a lot like those bumper stickers:

“If you can read this bumper sticker, you are following too closely.”

 

A mask serves as a reminder to people to keep their distance. Or at least it lets people know that you are sensitive to them invading your space. In other words, masks help encourage distancing.

Some people will invade your space anyway. But those people probably don’t turn on their headlights, either. Thankfully, few people are like that (and most of them are too busy trolling on social media to approach you in real life, anyway).

Just wear a mask

So, just wear a mask whenever you’ll be indoors near people.

You don’t need one at home.

You don’t need one in open spaces outdoors.

And they do not replace physical distancing or hand-washing. These remain critical ways of protecting yourself against coronavirus and COVID-19.

But when you’ll be in an enclosed space where other people are (or have recently been), or where you might touch objects that other have touched or been near while breathing, wear that mask!

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Leadership secrets from foreign penguins https://thehappyguy.com/leadership-secrets-foreign-penguins/ https://thehappyguy.com/leadership-secrets-foreign-penguins/#respond Sun, 05 Apr 2020 06:53:22 +0000 https://thehappyguy.com/?p=3800 Leadership by example helps forge a team. Let’s see how penguins can lead the way.

A few years back, there was a brand new fitness program at the San Francisco Zoo – a program that sort of just took off on its own without any goals or leadership from the zookeeper. This fitness program is for the birds, but it carries a leadership lesson for all of us.

The birds are penguins. Penguins are supposed to swim. In fact, 46 penguins at the San Francisco zoo had been taking regular dips in the pool to cool off and keep their feathers sleek. Ah, ain’t life grand. Lie around, eat, swim, rest, eat, swim, relax, eat, swim.

Until six “bodybuilder” penguins moved in from Ohio. The newcomers jumped into the pool and swam. And swam. And swam. In fact, those six penguins kept swimming laps all day long. Day after day. They must have been using a very effective antiperspirant.

The newcomers would start early in the morning and keep swimming in circles until they would “stagger” out of the pool at dusk.

What is most amazing, though, is that the six penguins ended up convincing the other 46 to join them. Hitherto “society” penguins are now swimming the whole day through like commoners.

Leadership lessons form foreign penguins

What is the secret to the Ohio penguins’ success?

I don’t speak “penguin” very well, but I think I overheard the following conversation:

“C’mon, what are you, a penguin or a rock?”

“Why, I’m a penguin, of course.”

“You don’t look like a penguin. All you do is sit around like a rock.”

“That’s not true. I swim … sometimes.”

“Ha! A true penguin swims all day long. Geronimo!”

SPLASH!!

“Hey. I’m a real penguin, too.”

“Who you shouting at, Percy?”

“That swimmer with too much adrenaline in his feathers. He says I’m not a real penguin because I don’t swim enough.”

“Oh, yeah? We’ll show him, won’t we, Percy?”

“You bet! Uh, how?”

“By out-swimming the showoff penguins.”

SPLASH!!”

“Oh, oh. I guess I better get swimming right away.”

SPLASH!!

Foreign penguins show their leadership and their penguinhood

OK, so I might be a little off on my translation, but somehow those six penguins changed the entire lifestyle habits of the other 46. The zookeeper is reported by the wire service to have said, “We’ve completely lost control.” The wire story quoted an aquatic biologist as saying she would be more surprised if the six had taught the other 46 how to jump through hoops – something few penguins do in the wild with any success.

The point is not that the 46 penguins have learned to swim, which they had always been doing as a leisurely pastime, but that they are now in full aquatic stampede mode … and that they were convinced by the other six to change their entire lifestyle. How did the six penguins do it?

Well, I was suspicious about penguins that come from Ohio. Everyone knows that penguins come from Antarctica. Last I could recall, Ohio was nowhere near Antarctica. Sure, it’s chilly in Ohio this time of year, but not THAT chilly. My atlas confirmed that Ohio is indeed still in the United States, not in Antarctica, meaning that these penguins were foreigners, perhaps victims of persecution – refugees from their homeland?

So these foreign penguins have come in and motivated the local penguins to live up to their full … ah … penguinhood. What an accomplishment! What success! And what great leadership lessons we can learn from this.

Lesson number one: don’t be afraid to try new things and accept outside influences.

Lesson number two:
be a penguin not a rock (unless, of course, you are a rock).

And lesson number three: don’t give up. If six penguins can whip 46 homebodies into shape, imagine how you could kick-start your own fitness program (or any other goal you set your mind to).

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True friends are not dream-slashers (friendship poem) https://thehappyguy.com/friendship-poem/ https://thehappyguy.com/friendship-poem/#comments Mon, 18 Nov 2019 23:35:57 +0000 http://drakemedia.ca/happytemp/?p=2217 What does friendship mean? Let’s take a clue from the Friendship Poem.

The secret to choosing the right friendships for you, starts with a short friendship poem (perfect for International Friendship Day, July 30)

Choose friends wisely, the portrait they paint
Is who you are and who you ain’t.
Friendship is life’s great support
When friends are of the right sort.
For all your dreams do they make room,
Or bring you down with doom and gloom?
You will know a friendship is true
When it brings out the best in you.

 

It’s true. You can tell a person by the company she keeps. Our friendships not only tell a lot about who we are — they make us who we are.

The friendship poem above says it all. “You will know a friendship is true when it brings out the best in you.”

Take a look at your friends. Do they bring out the best in you? That might seem like a silly question. We all tend to think, “Of course they bring out the best in me. I wouldn’t be friends with them otherwise.”

How true friendships are born

But stop and think why you are friends. Here are a few common reasons why people become friends:

  • Common background, sharing a comfort level in company from “the same side of the tracks”.
  • Common current situation, being able to discuss parenting, home renovations, or some other major life circumstance.
  • Common interest, such as cards, bowling, hunting, etc.
  • For shy people, a person who actually approached you is a candidate for friendship.
  • For leaders, somebody who seems content to follow is a likely candidate. Somebody you spend time with anyway, such as a colleague, sibling, etc, often becomes a friend.
  • Somebody you see frequently anyway, such as a neighbor, store clerk, etc, could become a friend.

These are just a few reasons people choose friends. It is the easy, natural way, but it is not always in our best interest. Sure, we should always want to get along with colleagues, neighbors, siblings, and anybody else.

But we should choose our friends, the people we open up to at the deepest level, very carefully. For instance, even a sibling can bring you down, pooh-pooh your dreams and load you up with negativity. “Ha! You think you can teach? What do you know about teaching?”

Even well-meaning friends can be dream-slashers. “Oh, do you really think you should go into business for yourself? I mean, what about security?”

On the other hand, some friends have a way of building up your dreams. “Go for it! You could really do well. And at worst, you’ll at least have given it your best shot!”

Friends will often lend a hand. “Gee, I don’t know much about fitness, but is there any way I can help you reach your goal?” Dream-slashers usually don’t. “Hey, if you insist on pursuing this crazy scheme, leave me out of it.”

As the friendship poem says …

A true friendship should:

  • Encourage you to live your dream.
  • Support you toward your goals.
  • Sympathize for your losses and help you find a silver lining.
  • Build your self-esteem.

If happiness and life-satisfaction are your goals, your friends should be chosen on the basis of how well they can accomplish those four goals.

Happiness is a personal choice that comes from within. But, as my short friendship poem says, it sure doesn’t hurt to have supportive friendships that help us achieve our goals.

Friendship Poem

 

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Are you an angry hippo? https://thehappyguy.com/angry-hippo/ https://thehappyguy.com/angry-hippo/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2019 02:05:04 +0000 http://thehappyguy.com/?p=3608 The hot days of summer are about to transform you. To find out how, let’s take a stroll down to the Luangwa River and commune with our friend, the hippopotamus.

Ahh… the hot and lazy days of summer. Time to relax. Time to take it easy. Just like the hippos in Africa’s Luangwa River.

What do hippos in Africa have to do with you?

Very little – until the hot weather turns dry. During the dry season, an amazing thing happens to the Luangwa River. It shrivels up. Bit by bit it recedes until nothing is left but a few pools of water.

Most of the animals leave for higher ground, seeking water and food.

Not the hippos. They stay in their water – their ever shrinking pools of water. As the water recedes, they grow hotter. As the water evaporates, they grow more crowded. As the heat and crowding increase, the hippos grow ever more surly.

They bare their teeth.

They snarl.

Tempers flare.

They pick fights.

It’s river rage!

It’s river rage. (If you’ve ever come face to face with an angry hippo – all 5,000 pounds of it – you will understand why all the other animals have sense enough to seek other watering holes.)

Humans do not always have the same sense that other animals have.


River rage: humans do not always have the same sense that other animals have.
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Sometimes we can be more like the hippos. Sometimes we just get nasty and snarl and pick fights.

This brings us back to those hot and lazy days of summer. Those same days that seem just made for relaxing and taking it easy – until we get stuck in traffic or in a ticket line-up or just about anywhere we have to wait. The combination of heat and crowding gets to be too much for us.

Welcome to road rage, air rage, parking lot rage, supermarket checkout lineup rage, and just about every other rage they may someday name.

Rage does not equal happiness. It is virtually impossible to be happy when we are angry.

While anger is a natural emotion, and justifiably expected as a response to an injustice, it is not something we really want to hold on to.

How to tame the hot, angry hippo in you this summer

How to cool the anger on hot days

So what do we do? There are many ways to avoid anger. Here are just a few.

  • Before heading out onto the highway, into the malls, to the theater or anywhere people may gather, remind yourself that it is summer and time to relax.
  • Air conditioning can help. I am not the biggest fan of fake air, but a little cool can go a long way to avoiding a temper tantrum.
  • Music, it is said, can sooth the soul of savage beasts. I do not know if it has ever been tried on hippos, but it sure works on humans. Put some soothing music on in your car on the way home from work instead of listening to shock jocks or the latest song about violence.
  • Plan extra time to run your errands so that delays are more bearable.
  • Before leaving, remove the crowbar from your trunk. Yes, it’s true. Some people keep a “weapon” in their trunks in case they feel the need to explode.
  • When I am in my car and somebody tries to cut in, I usually let them. I say to myself, “She seems to be in more of a hurry then I am, so let her go.” Then I think how good it feels not to be under the other driver’s stress. Of course, this only works when I am not the one in a hurry. And I admit I find this much harder to do when I am face to face with people in a lineup.
  • Then, there is the old standby of counting to three before saying – or doing – anything you might regret.

I don’t know about you, but I want to enjoy these hot and lazy days of summer. And there is no way I can enjoy anything when Im angry. If you feel that way, too, why not try one of the techniques I mention to avoid all the pain of inflicting anger on yourself. After all, your anger hurts you the most.

Enjoy your summer … every hot and lazy day of it.

* NOTE: This was adapted from a speech entitled Hippo Rage.

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Canada’s food guide 2019 – finally science-based healthy eating guidelines! https://thehappyguy.com/canada-food-guide-healthy-eating-nutrition/ https://thehappyguy.com/canada-food-guide-healthy-eating-nutrition/#comments Sat, 23 Mar 2019 23:44:30 +0000 https://thehappyguy.com/?p=3726 The new Canada’s food guide is the first that puts the science of healthy eating squarely before politics. Here’s what’s new in the Canadian food guide.

The new Canada’s food guide has generated a lot of buzz. Much of the buzz has focused on reducing the four food groups to three, replacing the “Milk and Alternatives” and “Meat and Alternatives” food groups with “protein foods”.

What is Canada’s food guide? It is a guide that everybody, young and old, can use to ensure they are eating a reasonably healthy plate of food. These are healthy eating guidelines, but the details are up to you. TIn essense, it answers the question: “How can I eat healthy everyday?”

he Canadian food guide has been revamped for 2019.

The evolution of the food guide can be seen in these images of the covers. Below are previous guides from 1942, 1949, 1977 (the food guide I grew up with) and 1997. As you can see, the notion of a balanced diet has evolved over time

1942 Canadian food guide cover, , with Canada's food rules1949 Canadian food guide cover, with Canada's food rules

1977 Canadian food guide cover, with  a healthy plate of the four food groups in Canada1997 Canada food guide cover, with the four food groups in Canada

Another major focus has been on removing food guide servings or portions. Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, director general the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion at Health Canada says, “It’s not about portion per se, but perhaps about proportion,” now. That makes the Canadian food guide a bit more like the concept of the “food pyramid”, as is found in the American food guide.

Eating well with Canada’s food guide?

Most of the changes are science-based. One of the best known secrets in Canada (and in the USA food guide, too!), is how the dairy and beef industries have been able to twist the official food guide in their favor for decades, at the expense of sound nutritional advice. As a result, many Canadians simply ignored the guide, figuring that it was not a credible document.

No more! Canada’s food guide is now based squarely on science. It represents the best understanding of nutrition that we have today. At last, we have a “nutrition food guide” or a “healthy eating guide”, not just a political compromise.
Canada's food guide in the news

What are the new Canada’s food guide recommendations for 2019

There are new recommendations in the Canada’s food guide. Some old recommendations have been removed. Others have been changed. Let’s look quickly at each change.

Eat more plants

“Eating plant-based foods regularly can mean eating more fibre and less saturated fat. This can have a positive effect on health…”

 

My vegetarian friends will surely be pleased that they no longer have to eat their fellow Earthlings.

But note that the guide doesn’t say not to eat animals or animal products. The cover, which shows the three new groups, features an egg, some yogurt, and what looks like some beef, chicken and fish. But these form about half of the protein food group. There also three types of nuts, three types of pulses (legumes), tofu and some seeds. Now, that’s healthy food!

2019 Canada's food guide cover

I wrote earlier why removing the dairy food group is a good thing.

Having condensed “Milk and Alternatives” and “Meat and Alternatives” into a single group, the guide explains that the “plenty of vegetables and fruits” group should form half of our diets. The cover features a healthy plate with ideal proportions, just in case some people find this concept challenging.

Make no mistake, this is the central message of the new Canada’s food guide:

“Many of the well-studied healthy eating patterns include mostly plant-based foods.”

 

Interestingly, the US Food Guide Pyramid gives more weight to grains than to fruits and vegetables combined.

The cover of the new Canadian guide features nine types of vegetables, but just three types of fruit, two of which are berries. Pay attention to that message.

Eat fewer processed foods

“You should limit highly processed foods and drinks because they are not a part of a healthy eating pattern.”

 

Yes, yes, yes! One of my two guiding principles to eat healthy is to eat as close to nature as possible (the other is to eat as much variety as possible).

The more processed, the less nutrition a food has, and the more bad things you will find in it.

  • Extra salt, fat and sugar are often found in pre-packaged foods.
  • Heat destroys many nutrients, so pre-cooked or canned foods lose nutrients (the food guide doesn’t mention this).
  • Processed foods often contain artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, preservatives, emulsifiers and all sort of things that are at best useless to your body, and at worst harmful (the food guide doesn’t mention this, either).

Healthy eating habits mean eating more raw food and cooking food yourself, rather than buying ready-made, processed food.

Here’s something that’s gotten no buzz at all. I’ve read a couple dozen articles on the new Canada’s food guide: and I’ve seen not even a passing mention. White bread is out. Finally! The official food guide recommendation is to eat a variety of whole grains.

Old grains

New grains

“Choose whole grain foods.”

 

White bread, with its bleached flour, is more processed than whole grain foods. So this is 100% in keeping with the recommendation to stay away from highly processed foods.

Drink water

If you want to reduce your intake of processed foods, drinking water makes sense. It is the least processed drink. And it is what keeps us hydrated best. It’s also calorie-free, and as the guide notes, it is free of sugar and sodium.

Drinks to limit

If you think dairy is the big loser in the new food guide, consider fruit juice manufacturers. They used to be part of the recommended fruits and vegetables group.

Old fruit

Now the guide recommends against them, as well as other sugary drinks.

Sugary drinks

Fruit juice is processed food. It is not healthy food. It is so much better to eat the fruit, including all the pulp and skin (and sometimes, even the seeds).

There has been a lot of buzz about alcohol not being recommended. Despite the chatter, one doesn’t notice much about alcohol in the food guide. The detailed guidelines that the public will rarely see actually do make a big deal of alcohol:

“Alcoholic beverages can contribute a lot of calories to the diet with little to no nutritive value. When alcohol is mixed with syrups, sugary drinks such as soft drinks and fruit-flavoured drinks, or cream-based liquors, they can be a significant source of sodium, free sugars, or saturated fat.”

 

These detailed healthy eating guidelines go much further than ever before, launching pretty much a full frontal attack on alcohol:

“Further, the substantial disease burden attributed to alcohol intake is a leading global health concern. There are well-established health risks associated with long-term alcohol consumption, including increased risk of many types of cancer—liver, oesophageal, mouth, pharynx, larynx, colorectal, and breast (post-menopausal)— and other serious health conditions (such as hypertension and liver disease).”

 

And it recommends to the public:

“People who do not consume alcohol should not be encouraged to start drinking. If alcohol is consumed, Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can be used to provide information on how to reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms in both the short and long term.”

 

Alas, few people will see these detailed guidelines. In the main sections of the guide, alcoholic drinks are mentioned only in passing, along with all other juices and drinks.

The fact is that alcohol is a highly processed food. Want to put barley or grapes in your body? There are much healthier ways.

Which brings me to one of my beefs about political interference. Have you ever seen a nutrition label on a bottle of beer or wine or whisky? Me neither. Every other food and drink is subject to nutritional labeling. Not alcoholic drinks. Somebody must be lobbying hard.

If people saw how many calories were in a glass of wine or how much sugar was in a bottle of beer, some people would limit their drinking, to the health and well-being of society.

Feel good about healthy eating

This is a tricky bit. The Canada’s food guide now recommends eating with others and enjoying our food.

“Enjoying healthy foods with family, friends, neighbours or co-workers is a great way to connect and add enjoyment to your life. It can provide many benefits and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.”

 

“Enjoying your food is part of healthy eating. Enjoy the taste of your food and the many food-related activities that go along with eating.”

 

What do either of these recommendations have to do with nutrition and healthy food?

I think the first recommendation is because we are less likely to gorge on stuff that’s really bad for us when we eat with others.

We are also likely to eat slower, as we chat. Eating slower means that after the first plate, we are already feeling the food in our stomachs (and less likely to crave a second helping).

I’m really not sure about this one, though. When people eat together, I find there is more likely to be alcohol flowing, as people don’t like to drink alone. There is also often pressure to eat dessert.

As for the second recommendation, to enjoy your food, I assume this means that you should use healthy ingredients to make food you will enjoy. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be celery sticks with peanut butter, for instance. Am I interpreting this right? It’s possible.

Proportions, not portions

This new food guide recommendation is less one of science as one of clarity. People trying to follow the old food guide got confused about what a portion is.

Is this big banana a portion? Or this little one?

Are these portions really right for me if I’m taller than average? Older than average? Fitter than average?

Instead, the new guide gives direction on what a healthy plate should look like in proportions:

  • Half of what you eat should be fruits and vegetables.
  • A quarter of what you eat should be whole grains.
  • A quarter of what you eat should be protein foods.

A glance at the “healthy plate” illustration, lays out pretty clearly what the food guide servings are, even if you don’t read past the cover.

Healthy plate from the 2019 Canada food guide

Of course, anybody who has ever taken even a tiny interest in nutrition and healthy eating already knows this. It’s certainly not news, nor has it been for decades. But it’s finally the basis of Canada’s food guide. Eating well with Canada’s food guide is not longer such a stretch.

There are lots of new recommendations in the new Canada’s food guide. If you’ve ever read about nutrition or eating a balanced diet, nothing in this edition should come as a surprise. Except that it’s finally based on science, not on industry lobbying.

Labeling on vodka, anyone?

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The non-dairy Canada’s food guide 2019 – it’s about time https://thehappyguy.com/non-dairy-canada-food-guide-2019/ https://thehappyguy.com/non-dairy-canada-food-guide-2019/#comments Sun, 03 Mar 2019 23:59:21 +0000 https://thehappyguy.com/?p=3723 Yes, the new Canada’s food guide does away with the “dairy” category. Here’s why that’s a good thing.

I’m a huge dairy fan.

I drink two glasses of milk per day.

Our household consumes more mozzarella than the average pizza parlor.

I go through a 600-gram round of brie each month. Then there’s the ricotta, some yogurt and the occasional Jarlsberg, cream cheese, Parmesan, cheddar or other cheese.

And we always use milk or sour cream when we bake.

So you might say that I am a big dairy fan.

I am also a big cinnamon fan*. But cinnamon doesn’t deserve its own food group in the Canada’s food guide. And neither does dairy. Here are the reasons why.

Dairy is, first and foremost, a protein

There is already a protein category. We don’t have a separate category for “peanuts and peanut butter”.

We don’t have a separate category for “meat”.

We don’t have a separate category for “nuts”.

And we don’t need a separate category for dairy. People can get all the protein they need without dairy. Vegans do. Lactose-intolerant people do. Dairy is not a required food group, no matter how beneficial it is.

Every nutrient doesn’t get to be a “food group”

A good case can be made that dairy is not just about protein. That is true. It is also a great source of calcium. In fact, that’s the case the dairy farmers have been making for years. But there are many other sources of calcium, such as:

  • leafy vegetables
  • almonds and some other nuts
  • poppy seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds
  • fortified foods, such as bread or orange juice (check the label)
  • canned sardines and canned salmon (bones are loaded with calcium)
  • pulses, such as beans and lentils, which are also great sources of protein

Non-dairy sources of calcium

I suppose we could have a calcium food group, but why would we? We don’t have a food group specifically for iodine. Or for Vitamin A. Or for iron. What is so special about calcium that it warrants a special food group when other equally vital nutrients don’t?

Canadians are vitamin D starved

This is true, to a point. Humans make their own vitamin D by converting the rays of the sun. In our cold northern climate, we don’t get enough sun. It’s cold outside, and we stay huddled in our igloos.

Even as we drive, we get only the harmful rays through the glass. Sit in the car long enough, and you’ll get skin cancer, but you still won’t get much vitamin D.

In summer, and most of the spring and fall, people make much more vitamin D from the sun than they need. A food group just for vitamin D doesn’t make sense, as it isn’t even needed for eight months of the year.

Milk is a great source of vitamin D for the other four months. But not all dairy products are. Vitamin D is added artificially to milk, because it is best absorbed with calcium. Adding vitamin D to milk seemed to be the best way to get it to the masses.

But much of the cheese and yogurt we eat is made from from milk prior to vitamin D being added. So most dairy products don’t have vitamin D. Even if having a food group just for this nutrient, “dairy” wouldn’t cover it.

Interestingly, the US Food Guide Pyramid still has a “Milk, Yogurt & Cheese Group” – presumably not for the lack of vitamin D in its more southerly lands.

Do we need milk to get our vitamin D in winter?

This is about nutrition, not politics

The dairy lobby in Canada is incredibly strong. A lot of people are employed in the industry, and it has strong regional political power base.

The dairy lobby doesn’t like losing its place in the Canada’s food guide. It fears a loss of sales.

And it is probably right. Over time, dairy consumption will probably drop, although not a lot. But the politics are glaring:

  • a loss of 3% market share through the CETA treaty
  • another loss of 3% market share through the CPTPP renegotiations
  • another loss of 3.5% market share through the NAFTA renegotiations (USMCA)
  • probable reduced consumption as a result of the new Canada’s food guide

The reality is that most dairy farmers will continue to produce milk. But some might have to switch to pulses. It probably won’t be many, as dairy will remain popular. But the market share for pulses is climbing, both in Canada and around the world. And they are more likely to displace beef, pork and chicken than dairy products.

One thing is for certain: people won’t stop eating. Canada’s population keeps growing. The world population keeps growing. Farmers will have to keep growing food to meet a hungry planet. But there’s nothing wrong with adapting, especially since pulses take much less acreage to produce the same amount of protein.

Dairy never should have been considered a “food group” from the start. Removing this misplaced “food group” from the Canada’s food guide is long overdue. And the farmers will still have plenty of hungry mouths to feed, so the sky is not falling.

NEXT: Good news on healthy eating in the 2019 Canada’s food guide

* In fairness, I don’t eat as much cinnamon as dairy. Not quite.

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How to choose a job that will make you happy https://thehappyguy.com/choose-happy-job/ https://thehappyguy.com/choose-happy-job/#comments Tue, 15 Jan 2019 23:30:20 +0000 https://staging.thehappyguy.com/?p=3651 There’s more to happiness on the job than choosing what you do. Here are some even more important factors to consider.

We spend a third of our waking hours on the job. If our job sucks, it’s hard to be happy. If our job is great, we have a pretty good chance of being happy.

But what makes a great job. How do you choose one that will bring happiness?

It is often said:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Turn your hobby into a career.

While there is some wisdom to this, that wisdom wears pretty thin when put through the rigors of the real world.

Kat Boogard writes four reasons why this sentiment doesn’t ring true:

  • Work is not play.
  • Your number one passion is not always a realistic career.
  • No job is completely perfect.
  • The more you love your job, the harder you’ll work.

No job will ever be a hobby

To this, I would add one more really big reason. What makes a hobby enjoyable is often that you are in control. This is particularly true for creative people.

For instance, you might love to write. Your head is bursting with ideas. You have stories to recount. You have emotions to express. You have ideas to articulate.

Nobody wants to pay you for your stories, emotions or ideas. They want you to get that news release out tomorrow morning. They want you to interview employees on the new ride sharing program for the company newsletter. And that preliminary report for the Appropriations Committee is already past due, as the higher ups debate what should and should not be included.

The good news is that most people have a more realistic idea of how to choose a job. While they enter a field that interests them – not necessarily a hobby – they choose their job most on five criteria, according to Hired.com’s 2018 Global Brand Health Report.

  1. Compensation and benefits
  2. Company culture
  3. Opportunity to learn new skills
  4. Challenging technical problems to solve
  5. Team

Job application factors

Money first. After all, that’s the main reason we have a job, rather than just hobbies or volunteering. That’s why we give control of what we do to somebody else.

Not surprisingly, that same report lists money as the main reason people leave one job for another.

Company culture. This is so important. Will I be working with somebody looking over my shoulder? Will my new ideas be valued? Do I have a say in my work hours or my approach to work? Do I have to work on my own or do I have to work in a team? This has at least as much affect on happiness as the “subject” of the job.

Learning. Yes, most people are eager to keep learning, to keep their skills current, to be challenged.

Problem solving. Again, people like to be challenged. This is also, by the way, the second most important reason people leave a job for another – to pursue new challenges.

The team. The people you work with make all the difference. Do exactly what you love with grumpy or back-stabbing people, and work will be miserable. Been there, done that – it sucks. Do something pretty dull with amazing people, and life’s pretty good. Been there, done that, too.

How you work can affect happiness most of all

There is one point mentioned above that I would like to highlight. I mentioned it under company culture, but it’s more than that. How you work is as important as what you do or with whom you do it.

You might like to work mostly with people or you might like to work on your own. You might like to have strict direction, or you might enjoy working with ambiguity. You might feel fulfilled documenting every step, or all that paperwork might drive you batty.

Some of that is part of company culture, but some of that is also the nature of the position.

Consider someone interested in psychology. They could become a therapist or a researcher. Or they could help develop policy or advise on educational processes or marketing campaigns or so much more. If they hate being supervised, therapist might be a good career. But if they don’t have the patience to work through individuals’ problems, therapist would a poor career choice.

The bottom line is that there is so much more to making a career move than just choosing to do something you love. Sure, what you do is important. But how you do it, with whom you do it and how you are challenged can make all the difference in how happy you will be in your job.

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Where digital nomads go to work remotely https://thehappyguy.com/digital-nomads-work-remotely/ https://thehappyguy.com/digital-nomads-work-remotely/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2018 02:30:39 +0000 http://thehappyguy.com/?p=3517 In the emerging gig economy, more and more people are choosing to work anywhere they feel like. These are the digital nomads.

Thanks to the Internet, we have a world full of digital nomads. In the days of moat diggers and blacksmiths, it was important to live close to your work. Moats are not transportable, and if you tried transporting a customer’s horse, there was likely a hanging in your very near future. These days, a lot of work is geography independent.

Here are a few of the careers that will follow you no matter where your feet or a plane ticket will take you.  These are generally freelance careers, where you work for a variety of companies and individuals:

  • Writer or ghostwriter
  • Web designer or programmer
  • Marketer
  • Social media manager
  • Virtual assistant
  • Bookkeeper or accountant
  • Graphic designer
  • Blogger
  • Online tutor
  • Apps developer
  • Editor
  • Typesetter
  • Translator
  • Transcriber
  • Data entry clerk

These are careers you just cannot run away from.  But why would you want to?

Anywhere there’s an Internet connection, and your favorite beverage, will do. But some places will do better than others, and I was curious how today’s digital nomad decides. With the world at your doorstep, one could bed down in Singapore or Santiago. One could spend some time in the Australian outback or in the upper Amazon rainforest. One could choose between London and Oslo, Buenos Aires and Tokyo, Vancouver and Venice.

How does one choose?Digital Nomad Searches

So I decided to ask a few digital nomads whom I know.

Ryan Biddulph is probably the best known digital nomad on the planet, thanks to his successful “Blogging in Paradise” brand. In fact, when Google offers keyword suggestions based on “digital nomad”, Bali, where he has lived five times, comes up as one of the top recommendations.

When Ryan looks for a “long-term” location, by which he means 2 – 6 months, one factor takes precedence over all others: internet connectivity speed.

“Me and my wife Kelli love traveling to exotic locales but without a strong connection it’s a no go. We’re full time pro bloggers and need that juice.”

He staked out his current accommodations by engaging in several Skype conversations with the owner, to make sure the Internet connection was strong enough. If you write books or do design work locally on your laptop, Internet speed might not be of such great concern. But if you manage social media accounts or log in to the Cloud to do client bookkeeping, Internet connection speed is paramount.

He also has a preference for warm, exotic climates, having spent time in Fiji, Quepos in Costa Rica and Koh Lanta in Thailand.

“Warm temperatures are a must. Being by a beach is important too.”

For financial reasons, Ryan looks for countries where the US dollar is strong against the local currency. This is important not just for Americans, but for anyone who gets paid in US dollars…which is most freelancers.

Brazilian nomad Vinicius Covas has a much more practical approach to the places he goes. He is looking to advance his career in journalism by getting to know the players and the terrain across Latin America.

“As a journalist who is looking to develop their own skills in this field, I chose Mexico because I believe it is a country with a great force in business communications. Beside, as a Brazilian, I understand Mexicans have their power in Latin America.”

Natalie Sisson has set herself up a challenge – to see half the world.  So far she has been to 69 countries, carrying her business in a suitcase.  For her, the main question she asks before choosing a place to go is whether she has already been there. With bank accounts in four different countries, she also calls herself a “fiscal nomad”.

Ryan certainly does not fit the image of the typical American, which can probably be said of most digital nomads.

“Kelli and I prefer to live in local neighborhoods away from tourist traps. Right now we’re in a quiet little Balinese village were few people speak English. It’s forced me to brush up on my Bahasa, that’s for sure.”

Ian Parks is a graphic designer from England and he looks to experience different cultures, as well: Montreal, Cairo, New Zealand and now Budapest.

Digital nomads can live anywhere

The Brazilian sees it the same way.

“I avoid always to keep in my comfort zone. I believe when you decide to travel or live in another country, you need to discover what the place has to offer to you, I mean, cultural things, economic topics, networking connections. You can learn a lot talking with native people and this helps you improve your own job with new ideas and endeavors.”

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