All posts tagged: Happiness

Week 17 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Happiness

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Happiness Do you want to be happy? For all humans, the answer is an unambiguous Yes.  To be human is to seek happiness, wouldn’t you agree? The desire for happiness simultaneously brings humanity together and tears us apart. Sure, we are all united in our desire to be happy. However, happiness means different things to different people and therefore, we’re divided in how we go about getting it! Concepts of Happiness Happiness as Pleasure: The Greek school for “happiness as pleasure” is called Hedonism.  Hedonism thought that pleasure was the ultimate human good. There were higher pleasures and lower pleasures.  A lower pleasure is a physical pleasure such as eating or sex. Higher pleasures were intellectual goods and virtues which had the effect on the possessor of increasing her other pleasures.  For example, the virtue of moderation allows a person to receive the most pleasure from her body – if you drink …

A Cheerfulness Practice to Radically Improve Your Mindset and Get Rid of Ennui

Don’t let a chronic case of the Mondays bring down your entire life.   Have you ever felt that each week is more of the same?  You make it through Monday to Thursday.  Finally, it’s Friday! But suddenly it’s Monday again.  How did that happen? The weeks run like torturous deja vu. Or perhaps it feels like every day is worse than the last.  The same breakfast, the same commute, the same crabby coworker.  And even the weekends are starting to seem as bland as plain, congealed oatmeal. It’s not that things are bad.  The response to “How are you?” is  “Oh, I really can’t complain.”  How do we cope with this perpetual, mild dissatisfaction?  Nothing’s really wrong.  Or is it? This listlessness has a name: ennui (pronounced: On-We).  It’s an emotional state of overcast, the kind that threatens of rain for days on end, but fails to provide the relief of a downpour.  It just goes on being overcast.  After the overcast becomes “normal”, you occasionally find yourself nagged by memories of last summer, …

Can you Be Present AND plan for the Future?

Pop-culture’s Enlightenment Error “Happiness is only achievable in the present moment.” “To be present you must put aside thoughts of the past and future.” “Just breathe, trust, let it go and see what happens.” Statements about being present are multiplying as quickly as smoothie shops.  Mindfulness websites, motivational wallpapers, and Instagram captions recycle and repurpose ancient wisdom into naïve platitudes that briefly catch our attention as we scroll our lives away.  Quotes paired with photos of smiling yogis, poised on mountain tops, implant into our minds the idea that happy, enlightened people spend life sitting cross-legged, ignoring responsibilities, and breathing – nary a thought of the future and certainly no planning necessary. Somehow they blissfully and serendipitously sashay through life, free of career goals, relationship goals, or worry about what to cook for the kids tonight. Undoubtedly, compared to neurotic fretting, this carefree notion of being present is helpful.  If you’ve totally lost control of your environment and your emotions – you really messed up big time – well then, jettisoning any thoughts of the past or future …

Week 10 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: What’s Love?

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Love In English, the word “love” can refer to anything from pleasant regard (“I love your blouse.”) to deep interpersonal affection (“Your love completes me.”). Although the word is frequently used, many of us, when asked, would have to think about what we really mean.  Why bother defining love? Prevent misunderstandings: An instance of the word “love” may be casually misunderstood because of the variety of meanings it takes on, dependent on context and individuals involved.  The meaning is often taken for granted by the hearer and speaker. Clarify expectations: If you’ve defined your own usage of, “I love – “, then you’ll be ready to ask another person what it means to them when they use the sentence. Deepen your debate: Some people reserve the word “love” for strong emotions; other people use love often and easily.  What’s the true meaning of love?  Everyone wants to know. How many ways do …

Week 1 Questions for Know Thyself in 2019: Sleep

(This blog post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019: A Journal Project) S L E E P The question topic might surprise you. Why start a self-knowledge journal asking about something that we’re unconscious for? Two major reasons to figure out your relationship with sleep: Your brain health. Deep thinking and creativity require proper brain function.  If you’re not sleeping well, then your brain isn’t going to function optimally. Your physical health. Your heart, muscles, immune system require adequate sleep.  Stress hormones and insulin resistance increase in response to sleep deprivation. There’s a lot of contradictory advice circulating, such as: Rich and successful people don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night. Human beings need at least 8 hours of sleep. It’s pretty common to be confused about what YOU actually need. Let’s figure it out! Questions: How much sleep do you get on average per night?  (How to know: total how many hours of sleep you’ve gotten in the last 7 nights, and divide that number by 7)  Do you think you get …

Know Thyself in 2019: A Journal Project

The most important thing you can do is learn who you are.  There are so many motivational speakers available to us, so why are we still doing so little with our resources?  I mean, we don’t seem to be getting any happier. That is what we want, right?  Maybe it’s time to admit that motivation enough to find a happy and healthy life. Why write goals and make plans if you don’t know who you are and what you want?  Where does that desire for a six-pack or six-figure income come from? Did society program that want or is it a deep part of who you are? Unless it’s what you really want, then it can’t guarantee happiness. Motivation without self-knowledge is like trying to plan your optimal vacation without knowing where you want to go.  I used to daydream about travel by wishing for a five-star hotel, lying on an exotic beach, sight seeing, touring famous buildings, and meeting the locals.  But because I had no idea who I was, what I liked, what …

How to Live without Shame and Avoid Rationalizing

A few days ago I was discussing justification with a colleague. The previous two blog posts were about Justification (Parts 1 and 2). He suggested a third aspect of justification: excuse-making or rationalization.  This is distinct from the epistemic notions of justification.  A discussion of rationalization justification falls under the categories of pragmatism (human, goal-oriented reasoning) and psychology. What is Rationalization Justification? Rationalization is an excuse-making behavior we resort to if we commit an act that is deemed unacceptable to ourselves or others. After the conscious realization that the behavior was unacceptable, we begin to feel emotionally uncomfortable – guilty, shameful, inferior, unworthy, etc.  The response to those feelings is to “rationalize the situation”. Rationalization is a type of excuse-making that retroactively justifies the behavior that we deemed unacceptable.  It “makes the situation OK”.  By providing justifying reasons for the unacceptable behavior, we are able to re-interpret our behavior to be acceptable.  Rationalization allows us to avoid painful emotions that we would otherwise have felt when looking back at the behavior. I think there are …

My Favorite Tool to Break Free from Hopelessness and Depression

Today I want to share with you one of the most powerful healing tools I used early on, and still occasionally use, to manage painful emotions such as anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, or emotional “flatness”.  Deep thinkers are often sensitive people, which is why this post is appropriate for a critical thinking blog. Make a List Start by writing a list of some things that would normally make you feel good.  They don’t have to make you feel good now.   But simply list some things that, if you were feeling alright or better, you might enjoy doing.  Don’t make the list too hard.  I suggest having at least one item from each of the following categories of human needs.  Add some that are easier to do than others. Social: Call a family member and ask how their day is. Visit a friend for an hour over coffee.  Visit a forum online. Compliment someone through social media. Physical: Exercise a few minutes.  Try a yoga class.  Take a walk listening to uplifting music. Eat a meal or …

Life Lessons At the Xerox Machine

A lesson for self-acceptance from an unlikely place Yesterday at work I walked by a co-worker who was having some difficulty with a new printing system that had recently been installed. She sighed and explained to me that I was lucky since I was new and didn’t know the old system at all. She was used to doing things the old way and, therefore, had to break old habits at the same time as learn the new ones. I, on the other hand, merely need to add a new habit. I thought to myself, “How profound this idea would be, if applied to daily life.”  How can we cease to struggle with habits? Is there a way to change our mindset to live in the freshness of each moment and thereby become excited for change?  Do we need habits? Any advantages? Habit is an essential part of human existence.  Our muscles and minds are habit-forming machines. In fact, if you didn’t have an “autopilot” for most daily tasks, you’d be overwhelmed within hours. You’d likely spend so …

Psychology of Competition: Why you don’t Value what will make you Happy

Our Inconsistent Set of Values As a society we say that “it’s what’s inside that counts.” However, the fact of our ultra-busy, career-chasing lives, and the billion-dollar beauty and med-spa industry reveals that we actually seem to think it’s the external things that give us value. Why is there this split between what we want to value, what we say we value, and what we actually seem to value? When theory is put into practice in the values we want for ourselves, why don’t we place inner beauty and a loving heart above an LV purse and a fit figure? The inconsistency in values is sadly apparent in the gender wage gap.  Traditionally, professions staffed by sincere, caring, and dedicated women such as nursing and teaching pay less than professions that focus on production of a specific good or multiply money. Now, I am in no way anti-capitalist (I’m rather a “status egalitarian”: human rights and esteem for all.  A discussion of its economic ramifications is for another day!).  But consider those things that truly …