November 2017

Fable

Pretty much as long as I can remember I’ve been big into the fantasy genre (starting, of course, with Tolkien) and role playing games (RPGs). They were both excellent forms of escapism for a shy kid that loved the ideas of magic and fighting monsters. So, when the game “Fable” was released in 2004, and its successors in 2008 and 2010, you’d best believe I was all over it.

These games had all the classic tropes and conventions for the genre. They were set in a pre-industrial society (at least initially) where the village-folk needed protecting by a noble hero wielding magic and weaponry to ultimately save the world. There was the classic system of gaining experience through battles and quests to “level up” and gain new abilities and spells. They also had less common features like the ability to become evil or good based on your actions- which had an impact on your appearance and how people would react to you.

Now, I’m not going to claim that the Fable series was the best thing since slice bread or try to bore you non-video-game-people with a recounting of all my heroic deeds. What I want to talk about is a neat little feature in the games that actually ended up tying in well with the investing strategies I use and recommend. Continue reading Video Game Investing Lessons

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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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