Posts concerning happiness

Technical Difficulties and Linkspam, 2012-06-17

22:56 17 Jun 2012

The death of my old MacBook Pro this evening has caused the loss (hopefully only temporary) of the blog post I was working on today (on androids in Alien and Prometheus), which I will try to recover and finish next week.

In the meantime, here are some interesting things I encountered on the internet this week.

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Happiness Progress

21:06 14 Feb 2011

Long-time readers of this blog will know that happiness is a recurring concern of my posts. Recently, I seem to have made some kind of significant step, or crossed some important line, towards happiness.

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Zappos Service

23:55 19 Oct 2010

I’ve ordered shoes a few times from Zappos, and I’ve been quite happy with them. Everything has worked well, and I’ve had no complaints. Today, when I picked up my Zappos package expecting to see my brand new pair of Inov-8 F-Lite 195s (yes, apparently CrossFit trends get to me too), I instead opened up a pair of women’s shoes intended for someone in Seattle.

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22:34 09 Sep 2010

Near the start of July I mentioned the idea of keeping a “gratitude journal”. I’ve been doing that, more or less, since then.

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Tal Ben-Shahar on Practical Happiness

22:30 08 Jul 2010

Even though Oakland apparently isn’t too bad so far after the Mehserle verdict, thinking about police–protester interactions is depressing, and watching this take on recent events in Toronto didn’t help. So what better than five ways to become happier?

You should follow the link and watch the video, but if you really don’t have time to spare to become happier, a quick summary:

  • Accept emotional pain. It’s indicates that we’re still alive and not psychopathic.
  • Focused time with loved ones. We need it, and we need it without distraction.
  • Regular exercise. We’re not supposed to be sedentary. Even three times a week for thirty–forty minutes helps tremendously.
  • Be grateful. He suggests noting five things you’re grateful for every night.
  • Simplify. Stop trying to jam more and more into less time.

I have experience with some of these, and they work. This includes exercise; the difference it can make is extremely significant. (It doesn’t have to be CrossFit—but do some kind of strenuous exercise three times a week for forty minutes!). I haven’t gotten too far with simplification. The “gratitude journal”, despite its New Age veneer, has some strong evidence behind it. I might try that out.

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Morford on Meditation

16:04 26 May 2008. Updated: 02:12 27 May 2008

I’m pretty tired at the moment, so this is going to be a short post, mainly a reference to this Mark Morford column about meditation.

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Ramblings about Self and Emotion

18:41 12 Nov 2007

At any given moment, while thinking (or thinking about thinking), we appear to ourselves to be somewhat rational, free-willed beings. We’re able to think (I think), and to control what we think about to some extent. We conceive of ourselves, mostly, as discrete and singular “I”s who are conscious and whose selves somehow belong to us.

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23:17 16 Jun 2007. Updated: 01:18 17 Jun 2007

I’m currently reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness, which is excellent, and which I’ll probably write more posts about once I’ve finished it. Right now, I find quite striking his approach to overcoming human irrationality: he assumes that overcoming it is near-impossible and so seeks instead to avoid triggering it.

For example, he writes about how status is extremely relative, such that a family with an income of about $500K/year who live on Park Avenue feel like complete losers because they associate with much wealthier people. He then notes that they could try to rationally overcome their feelings of status anxiety (by comparing themselves to the larger population), but that this is unlikely to be effective, and his suggestion is to move to a poorer neighborhood and associate with poorer people. The irrational status comparisons will continue, but now they’ll be more favorable.

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Belief and Rationality/Irrationality

22:50 03 Mar 2007

Do people have rational reasons for believing things that are irrational?

For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll define “irrational beliefs” as “belief in things that are demonstrably untrue”. For example, the belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. I regard this as demonstrably false because it’s either untrue, or almost everything we understand about the physical laws of the universe goes out the window.

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23:25 06 Dec 2006. Updated: 01:01 07 Dec 2006

The meaning of ‘oblique’ that I’m addressing here is that of being indirect, unstraighforward, with connotations of slyness or underhandedness. What in our lives coomunicates indirectly and often with apparent deviousness?

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On Happiness

09:25 24 Aug 2006

Happiness is a topic I consider relatively often. Most of my musings about flow, structured consciousness, focus, and so on have the implicit goal of increasing happiness. Over the last few months I’ve come across a few articles on the subject that interested me.

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