Happy Pup

Last time, I talked through 5 different areas that have a big impact on happiness and how I’m working on improving or adding them in my own life. Today, we’ll round out the list with a few more key happiness boosters.

Remove the Unhappy

The Happy Philosopher has a great post about removing “alligators” from your life. These are the things in our lives that actually take away from our happiness and we’ve all got plenty, I’m sure. For me, the big ones that come to mind are Social Media and “The News”. There’s a consistent argument that people need to stay “informed”, which is used to justify this barrage of negativity in our lives. I don’t buy it. Anything truly “newsworthy” will end up making its way to my ears, regardless. Instead, what I’m filtering out is the 99% of “news” that is really about entertainment, fear-mongering, and click-baiting. Most of the content out there is meant to generate advertising revenue and/or push an ideological agenda that often involves partisanship and anger.

Continue reading Upping My Happiness Game (Part 2)

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One Happy Dog

Last post, I talked about the ways that we get stuck in loops of chasing hits of pleasure which ultimately end up feeling unsatisfying. Today, I want to get into some of the key things I’m trying to focus on to increase lasting happiness and contentment.

Practice Gratitude

This is first because I think it’s the best and easiest way to find happiness on a daily basis. I’ve seen plenty of successful people recommend taking a few minutes every morning to think about a few things that you’re grateful for and write them down in a journal. I don’t personally do the actual writing, but I’ve found that whenever I take a minute to reflect on all of the wonderful things and people in my life, I immediately feel better. It’s also a great way to get over feelings of jealousy, anger, or discontent. It’s hard to feel any of those things when you’re awash in gratitude for how truly blessed you are.

Continue reading Upping My Happiness Game (Part 1)

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Smiley Coffee

Happiness. I may be slowly becoming obsessed with it.

I think it’s kind of inevitable that once you get out of “crisis mode” and are able to cover all of your bills and get all the day-to-day stuff sorted, you start to look at the bigger picture and what you want for the long term. Either that or maybe it’s just an offshoot of getting older and falling into a stable life.

Either way, happiness is often an obvious place to focus. I think you can make a solid case for answering “What is the meaning of life?” with the simple “To be happy”. Sure there are lots of other valid answers, but I think most people would agree that finding real happiness is a cornerstone of a life well lived. Where this has led me is to the theory that too much of our culture and our experiences aren’t actually focused on happiness (although we may think they are), but instead on pleasure. The problem with this is that pursuing the latter is one of the best ways to never achieve the former.

So what’s the difference?

I think, intuitively, the difference between happiness and pleasure is fairly obvious when we take a minute to think about. Happiness in this context is synonymous with contentment; the kind of feeling you get when you’re sitting on the patio on a beautiful morning, sitting next to someone you care about, with a hot cup of coffee (or tea, no judgement) in hand and you sigh and think “Life is good”. Pleasure is more fleeting; it’s that hit of dopamine, that indulgence that you know probably isn’t great for you long term, but you do it anyway. Sure, it feels good, but it doesn’t last, and so, many of us end up stuck in an endless cycle of trying to find the next thing to chase after to make us feel good again and again. Continue reading Happiness Vs. Pleasure

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Buddha Meditating

This idea was inspired by David Cain over at Raptitude, who over the years has compiled a list of experiments that he’s performed in his own life to apply interesting ideas and see how they turn out. I’ve always found these to be entertaining and interesting and I think doing quick trial runs of potential habits is a great way to really test their value in your life. So, in his honor, and given that I’ve been reading a lot about it lately, I wanted to run an initial experiment in my life with establishing a daily meditation practice. I also believe meditation was the first of David’s many experiments and now it’s a huge part of his life; so, definitely a big inspiration.

The Meditation Experiment Terms

My goal will be 30 straight days with some form of meditation practice every single day. I’ll probably aim to keep each session between 5 and 10 minutes so that it doesn’t seem too daunting. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious or particularly rushed, I have no problem changing that up though. Continue reading The Meditation Experiment

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On YouTube yesterday I stumbled on a quick little video from Mark Cuban with 9 quick tips to “getting rich” (embedded below). Now I, like most people, hate the hell out of clickbait headlines and yet, they still inevitably work on me from time to time; so I watched it. Much of my curiosity came from the fact that lists like this either contain basic, common wisdom that is so bland as to be irrelevant, or ridiculous claims that will never apply to your average person. Despite that, my impression of Mr. Cuban has always been one of a highly competent entrepreneur, who is successful, not by chance, but because he’s really earned it. So, all that said, I wanted to see what ideas he was putting out and whether or not I agreed with them.

The 9 tips and my thoughts on them:

Continue reading Get Rich Tips from Mark Cuban

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Car full of money

We all know that catchy, advertising phrase, but does anyone ever really switch car insurance? I certainly hadn’t for about 10 years, until this week when I realized how silly it was to not even check for better deals. I’m pretty dedicated to frugality and good deals in most areas of life; why hadn’t I bothered to see what sort of options I had for insurance? It turns out that my assumptions and preference for the status quo were holding me back from an easy win, just like they have countless other times in my life and probably in yours as well. Continue reading “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance…”

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Travel Hacking?

There’s a lot of talk about hacking things these days- life hacks, personal finance hacks, travel hacks, etc… Everybody wants to be a hacker. I assume this is because that little girl in Jurassic Park made it seem super cool back in 1993.

It's a UNIX system, I know this.

Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to the business of getting points/miles/shiny rocks as a result of using credit cards, I usually just stick to calling them “Credit Card Rewards”.

All semantics aside, it’s a pretty sweet gig if you’re able to take advantage of it. So, today I’m going to talk about how I’m putting CC Rewards to use and how you could too, if you were so inclined.

Continue reading Adventures in Credit Card Rewards

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Reset button

I started writing this article while taking an overnight train from Seattle to San Francisco and looking out the window as we passed through a gorgeous national forest. Now, I say “started” because about 10 minutes into the process I got so nauseous from staring at the screen on a moving train that I had to abandon that whole idea… but that’s beside the point. The train ride was pretty fantastic and it was part of a week-long trip that took me to a number of new towns (thousands of miles from home), with a number of old friends, and, most importantly, well outside of my normal daily routine.

It was the lack of a routine that got me thinking

Humans, like many animals (I assume…I’m not a scientist), are creatures of habit. Once we’ve done something a certain way more than a few times, our brain actually starts to rewire itself and create fairly automatic routines. The next time we encounter the same situation, our brain will run through that routine with much less thought or attention. Continue reading Hit the Reset Button

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Dolla, Dolla Bills

I recently saw a question posted on Facebook about investing. The gist was: people recommend putting money into the stock market and letting it ride for the long term, but what happens if you invest (specifically in an index fund) and then there’s such a big crash that you lose all of the money because you hadn’t invested much?

For readers that are experienced investors this may just seem like a beginner’s misunderstanding, (which, sure, it is) but it also underlines a very common problem that even experienced investors have in how they think about their portfolio. So, let’s talk about both!

Continue reading Shares, not Dollars

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Anchor

When I think about the world of Sales, the first place my mind usually goes is the classic Alec Baldwin scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. Like probably a lot of people I’ve actually never even seen the rest of the movie, just these couple minutes of intense berating that Alec Baldwin’s character delivers to a room of salesmen. It seems like everyone reacts one of two ways to this clip (and the reality that it’s meant to represent): Group A is inspired by his tough love approach and the motto “Always Be Closing” that says your success is determined solely by your desire and your drive to make things happen; Group B feels disgust at the treatment of the salesmen and the focus on maximizing money at the expense of all else in life. I’m not here to tell you how to feel, you could even be in both camps. I’m here to talk about how not only is this scene grounded in reality, but the attitude it represents isn’t limited to just some sleazy salesman trying to scam you into a big purchase. For better or worse, sales tactics are baked into the core of our capitalist society and the more you realize that, the less likely you are to fall victim to them.

Continue reading Price Anchoring- a Weight on your Budget

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