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Exercise in Appreciation


Exercise in Appreciation

Stop comparing yourself to others - you don't know what they had to do to get where they are. 

You are reading this online - thank you electricity, thank you internet, thank you device-maker. 

You are reading - thank you orbital cortex, thank you eye-sight, thank you childhood bed-time story-tellers, thank you first-grade teacher.

You are - thank you parents, thank you friends, thank you food, drink, shelter, earth, thank you lungs, thank you brain, thank you hands, mind, heart, and soul. 

Thank you for being. 





The New Yorker grass is greener.jpg



3 Tips to Increase Your Happiness

Written into the Declaration of Independence, happiness is much pursued and seldom reached - for long. 

I read this article in the Times on the plane a few weeks ago and took some notes, so I thought I'd share them here.  

1. Try new things

Our happiness would be bred, instead of an almost adolescent restlessness, an itch to do the Next Big Thing. (...) That first moon landing - Apollo 11 - was a very big deal, something we had pursued like nothing else. But Apollo 12? Sort of a letdown.

This makes sense, doesn't it? First of all, in terms of age of country, the USA are in their adolescence. But you don't have to be US American to get excited about a new pair of shoes only to get bored by them a few days later. Your brain gets used to them, so all of us experience this phenomenon. Belle Beth Cooper writes about it here, and giving examples from her recent expatriation. 

So, while routine gives us stability and a sense of security, it may also get you down. Why not try new ways home from work, a new dish at the local restaurant, or - gasp - a new hairdo to flex your new-change muscles?  

2. Stay focused

In a recent research study,  

people operating under that so-called cognitive load showed reduced empathy reactions, with neural activity down across four different brain regions. People with uncluttered brains processed - and felt - things more deeply.

According to one of the researchers, "it's possible that being distracted may also reduce our own happiness." In other words - stop doing more than one thing at a time. Don't play Angry Birds while watching a movie, stop listening to an audiobook while baby-sitting, and for goodness' sake, if you're maxed out at work, don't schlepp your laptop into meetings and answer emails at the same time. It's not good for your health, not even to mention the cross-cultural messages you're sending to those who think it's rude. In the US, I know everybody does it, but in Germany it looks like "you're not important enough to have my full attention".  Have a chat with your team to set boundaries and see how you can fit your workload back into a realistic 40 hours. 

3. Appreciate what you've got

You've probably heard the thing where money doesn't buy happiness, or happiness levels don't increase much above a certain pay-grade. Sorry to bust that bubble: 

while happiness may not rise as quickly as income (doubling your salary from $75,000 to $150,000 will not make you twice as happy) there is no such thing as growing numb to money. (...) not only does subjective well-being rise along with income but in wealthy countries the slope is actually sharper than it is in poorer countries. 

What does this mean? If you make six figures but would like to make seven, your happiness isn't where it could be. If you continue comparing yourself to those who have more, you're not giving your happiness a chance to catch up.  

Click on the image up top to read the full article online, or buy the magazine for more interesting facts. For example, when asked "Which makes you happier?" 35 % of people said "Working toward a goal", and 59 % said, "Achieving a goal". Now, does that sound like a Perceiving and Judging preference, or what?!



Only love can drive out hatred, only light can drive out darkness

You know I love her, and guess what, she gave a commencement address at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. :-)

Dr. Brené Brown chose three nuggets of wisdom she would have wanted to have upon her graduation:

1. Whatever you do, do not wait until you're unafraid to do something. Don't wait til you're brave. Don't wait til you're comfortable. Step into the discomfort and do it anyway. You're more ready than you think.

2. If you want other people to put value on your work, put value on your work. Period.

3. Find joy. Really find and cultivate joy in your life.

"Thank you for signing up to be the love and the light in this world."



What are you grateful for?

20130101-230446.jpg I love the paper app for late-night and early morning doodles. It's particularly fun to draw out what I'm grateful for that day, or what made me happy. Here's a recent example.

Love invariably makes an appearance.

It's the daily practice of gratitude that forms the habit of noticing the good stuff. Hardly have enough space to put it all down now.

Perhaps if I learned to draw better? :-)

20130101-231155.jpg Buy this print