3 Things You Can Do to Improve Happiness and Well-being

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Here’s what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a leading expert on well-being and author of Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience says you can do to improve happiness and well-being:

  • Be attuned to what gives you genuine satisfaction. Although many people assume that popular activities like watching TV are enjoyable, their own reports generally indicate that they feel more engaged, energetic, satisfied and happy when doing other things.
  • Study yourself. To better understand their own happiness, Csikszentmihalyi says, people should systematically record their activities and feelings every few hours for a week or two. In recording your observations, try to focus on how you actually feel, rather than what you think you ought to be feeling or what you expect to feel. Afterwards, note the high points, particularly, and the low ones. Then try to adjust how you spend time according to your findings.
  • Take control. Repairing unhappy conditions requires active effort. People often assume external conditions will change for the better or let chance determine their response. That’s a mistake. “Get control,” Csikszentmihalyi says. When things aren’t right, “you have to put in the same effort you would if your business were in trouble. Just as markets move, life changes too.”

The above is an excerpt from a Time magazine article. Click on link for the original article, Getting Serious About Happiness, by Jeremy Caplan.

 

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Research on Happiness and Bad Decisions…. from Dan Gilbert

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Research shows that when we (humans) make decisions, we tend to focus on what we’re getting and forget about what we are forgoing.

I was just going to share this interesting article–Buried by bad decisions–by Dan Gilbert with you. But then I happened upon Dan Gilbert’s TED Talks:

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You can access them all at Dan Gilbert’s Ted page.

Enjoy the article. Its really interesting. Enjoy the talks, I am yet to complete all three. But I’ve watched the first one some time ago.

Rewiring Your Emotions (via Mindful.org)

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Think you’re destined to respond the same way emotionally to the same old triggers?

Not necessarily so, says Sharon Begley. With a little mind training, you can chart new pathways. 

Here’s the full article: Rewiring Your Emotions

 

 

Responding positively to provocative people and situations

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We all come across these; annoying or provocative situations and people.

Often we lose our cool and do or say things we regret later. Is it possible to avoid that? To keep our cool? Here’s a booklet on Positive Response – How to Meet Evil With Good
It is based on Buddhist texts translated and explained by Acharya Buddharakkhita.
A Buddhist Publication Society/Bodhi Leaves Publication meant for free sharing. Feel free to share with your network.

Frustrated?

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I think that is often the case that we are accomplices in our own frustrations. You need proof? You get it from Google, where else!’

According to Google statistics, people search the word “money” four times as often as the word “goal”. This creates a word: “frustration”.
~Tim Fargo, Alphabet Success – Keeping it

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And its not really nice where frustrations can take us. Here’s Lemony Snicket in The Wide Window:

Frustration is an interesting emotional state, because it tends to bring out the worst in whoever is frustrated. Frustrated babies tend to throw food and make a mess. Frustrated citizens tend to execute kings and queens and make a democracy. And frustrated moths tend to bang up against lightbulbs and make light fixtures all dusty.”

People cry, laugh, scream, commit murder and even suicide out of frustration. Here are a few quotations about frustration, its causes and how to deal with it.

 “Forget perfect on the first try. In the face of frustration, your best tool is a few deep breaths, and remembering that you can do anything once you’ve practed two hundred times.”
~Miriam Peskowitz, The Daring Book for Girls

* * *

“The path of my life is strewn with cow pats from the devil’s own satanic herd!”
~Rowan Atkinson, Blackadder II: Complete Series

* * *

“Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some. We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing.”
~Eric Hoffer

* * *

“Were you born this infuriating?”
“It’s taken me years of practice.”
~Misty Massey, Mad Kestrel

* * *

“Am I ever angry or frustrated? I only feel angry sometimes when I see waste, when things that we waste are what people need, things that would save them from dying. Frustrated? No, never.”
~Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living
* * *

And people have different ways of dealing with it.

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”
~Kurt Vonnegut

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“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.”
~T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise

 

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So the next  time you are feeling frustrated remember this:

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When somone is upset, your initial response matters

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A women under stress is not immediately concerned with finding solutions to her problems but rather seeks relief by expressing herself and being understood.~John Gray

And not just women, this applies to everyone. I read in The Happiest Toddler on the Block how it applies to kids and adults alike.

When somene is upset, they go ‘ape’ and their brains revert back to relying on primitive brain responses. This is the natural human response to stress. Logic does not work then. The kindest thing to do is to show sympathy in a way that your friend (or child or whoever is upset) cool down, by showing you care, that you understand.

So when a friend or your partner says “My boss is terrible. Illogical, I’ve had enough, I wish I could leave this job!” or something similar about any aspect of life, don’t reciprocate with “Yes I’ve had a bad day at work also. We should both look for jobs.” That makes you come out as insensitive. Lacking understanding. In toddlers it makes their moods worse.

Instead sympathize with a phrase like, “I know, it must be so difficult for you…” Afterwards when the upset person cools down, you can talk about things, with a clearer perspective.

I leave you with a quote by Mister Rogers:

In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.
~Fred Rogers in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

Read Stress, Don’t Let it Overpower You, a collection of inspirational stress quotations in my other blog.

 

Desiderata (or ‘things that are desired’)

Here’s something lovely. I used to have a Desiderata plaque on my office table for a long time. Besides Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, Desiderata is the most useful thing for someone seeking contentment and peace.  

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

You  can find out more about Desiderata at Desiderata.com