cultivate happiness http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/5422/all en-US Book review: Happier http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-happier <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-happier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happier-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of Happier" title="Cover of Happier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="108" height="160" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0071492399?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0071492399"><cite>Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment</cite></a> by Tal Ben-Shahar.</p> <p>Here are two ideas you already know: You won't achieve maximum happiness by always doing the most pleasurable thing you can think of at each moment, but neither will you find it by always deferring present happiness in favor of greater future happiness. The key is balancing these two things. And the genius in this book is that it gives you tools for finding that balance.</p> <p>Ben-Shahar begins with these two (poor) strategies for finding happiness.</p> <p>He calls one the &quot;rat-race&quot; strategy, where you're always deferring present happiness in favor of greater future happiness. Of course, that's the right thing to do in many circumstances. (Tedious studies can lead to mastery of a difficult topic; hard work can lead to promotion and greater opportunity; saving can lead to wealth.) But if you're always deferring to the future, when do you get to be happy?</p> <p>He calls the other the &quot;hedonist&quot; strategy, where you're always doing whatever seems most pleasurable at the moment. This obviously has those pleasures, but you lose out on the advantages of deferral. (The skills that can be developed by practicing the bits that aren't so interesting yet; the social and business advantages that can come from being known as someone who can get the job done; the resources that can come from saving and and investing.)</p> <p>(As an aside, let me mention that this use of the word &quot;hedonist&quot; is the one big complaint I have about this book. He uses &quot;hedonist&quot; to mean &quot;short-sighted, stupid hedonist,&quot; which is not the way I use the word.)</p> <p>The other great thing about this book is that it's based on scientific research. The book is extensively referenced, and when Ben-Shahar makes a claim, he has data to back it up. For example, a big part of the way to find the balance between present and future pleasure is to have goals: Goals are what sometimes make it worth deferring present happiness in favor of future happiness. That's not going to be big news to most readers. But he doesn't stop there. He references a study by Kennon Sheldon, who (based on research) writes:</p> <blockquote><p>People seeking greater well-being would be well advised to focus on the pursuit of (a) goals involving growth, connection, and contribution rather than goals involving money, beauty, and popularity and (b) goals that are interesting and personally important to them rather than goals they feel forced or pressured to pursue.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ben-Shahar goes on from there to talk about &quot;self-concordant goals,&quot; saying:</p> <blockquote><p>Research in this area indicates that there is a qualitative difference between the meaning that we derive from extrinsic goods, such as social status and the state of our bank account, and the meaning that we derive from intrinsic goods, such as personal growth and a sense of connection to others.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ben-Shahar provides a bunch of exercises for raising your level of happiness. Some are tools for finding the balance between present and future happiness. Others are ways to raise your level of happiness directly--with research that proves that they work. (As an example, one of these is writing what he calls gratitude letters--a &quot;thoughtful examination of the meaning and pleasure that you derive&quot; from a relationship.)</p> <p>One of the most important aspects of being happy is finding satisfaction in your work. I've talked about this quite a bit here on Wise Bread, emphasizing the importance of choosing work that you find worth doing. Ben-Shahar offers practical tactics for this, as well as for changing the job you've got to be more satisfying, and (perhaps most useful) choosing to perceive the work you're doing as valuable.</p> <p>Let me finish this review with one bit that I marked when I read it, because I thought it captured the essential difference between the short-sighted, stupid hedonism that Ben-Shahar is talking about, and what I mean when I talk about hedonism:</p> <blockquote><p>Ideally, we want our entire day to be filled with happy experiences. . . . One of the common mistakes people make is that in their free time they choose passive hedonism over an active pursuit of happiness.</p> </blockquote> <p>Despite that one flaw--using the word hedonism to mean &quot;passive hedonism&quot; and not to mean &quot;an active pursuit of happiness&quot;--this is a wonderful book. If you'd like to live a happier life, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0071492399?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0071492399"><cite>Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment</cite></a> is the best tool I've found so far to put yourself on the right path.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-happier">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-life-inc">Book review: Life Inc.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-4-hour-workweek">Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-ragnars-guide-to-the-underground-economy">Book Review: Ragnar&#039;s Guide to the Underground Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-work-less-live-more">Book review: Work Less, Live More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-reinventing-collapse">Book review: Reinventing Collapse</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income General Tips Art and Leisure book review books cultivate happiness happiness happy hedonism key to happiness rat race review Sun, 22 Jun 2008 22:05:12 +0000 Philip Brewer 2178 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Killer Ways to Feel Like a Million Bucks (Even If Your Bank Account Says Otherwise) http://www.wisebread.com/10-killer-ways-to-feel-like-a-million-bucks-even-if-your-bank-account-says-otherwise-0 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-killer-ways-to-feel-like-a-million-bucks-even-if-your-bank-account-says-otherwise-0" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/126661740_09fc5a03ab.jpg" alt="jump for joy" title="jump for joy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>To get rich never risk your health. For it is true that health is the wealth of wealth.<br /> </em> -Richard Barker</p> <p><em>He who enjoys good health is rich, though he knows it not.<br /> </em> -Italian proverb</p> <p><em>The first wealth is health.<br /> </em> -Ralph Waldo Emerson</p> <p>Not convinced yet? There are plenty of studies tying health to wealth (and vice versa), on a <a title="Health, Wealth, and Welfare" href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;ct=res&amp;cd=1&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.imf.org%2Fexternal%2Fpubs%2Fft%2Ffandd%2F2004%2F03%2Fpdf%2Fbloom.pdf&amp;ei=YNdJRq_OKp-IwQLN5riICw&amp;usg=AFrqEzdrLc2Xku_KwjQx9i3yucATEsYVgg&amp;sig2=9vbFjHPDEo0X1cIuLsfbUg">national</a> and a <a title="Small Steps" href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;ct=res&amp;cd=5&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fmrupured.myweb.uga.edu%2Fconf%2F10.pdf&amp;ei=9NdJRvrOIai0wQKytNiNCw&amp;usg=AFrqEzczacnOnFrsfySpJwQMdrPHxTORAQ&amp;sig2=bkWuGVVrDAuBNSqowZt0cg">personal</a> level. Rest assured, though, this isn't <em>The Secret</em>. If you really want to know a secret, here's one: thinking good thoughts about the universe will only make you more disappointed when they don't come true. But that's another thought for another post. Instead, here are some tried and true suggestions for feeling better.</p> <h3>1. Stretch and strengthen your hamstrings.</h3> <p>In a society where many of us sit for hours at a time, the hamstrings don't get either the exercise or the stretching that they need to hold it all together. Do you suffer from lower back pain? Mid-to upper back pain? Knee problems? Hip aches? Ankle soreness? All of these can be tied to weak and/or tight hamstrings. Here are some <a title="stretches" href="http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/flexibilityexercises/a/hamstingstretch.htm">hamstring stretches</a> and some <a title="hammie strong" href="http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=13171">ideas for strengthening your hamstrings</a> at home. You should feel both the stretching and the strengthening immediately in your lower back, though it may take 2-3 weeks to see results other places.</p> <h3>2. Drink water.</h3> <p>I KNOW you've heard this a million times. I've heard it a million times. But it's true. We all know that drinking water helps flush toxins from the body and keeps the kidneys healthy, but did you know that <a href="http://www.thedietchannel.com/Top-4-Benefits-of-Drinking-Water.htm">staying hydrated</a> will help eyes stay moist, sinuses drain, stomachs digest better, skin stay soft, nails and hair grow healthily, <a href="http://www.romow.com/health-blog/health-benefits-of-drinking-water/">brain synapses</a> connect better, and blood cells fight off infection?</p> <h3>3. Spend some time every day in silence.</h3> <p>Some people like to meditate, but some continue with their daily tasks, just without the noise. Most of us are so accustomed to the sounds aroud us &mdash; the air conditioning, the typing of the employees around us, people talking in meetings &mdash; that we don't realize how tired it makes us. <a title="Noise" href="http://www.euro.who.int/Noise">Noise</a> can make it harder to breathe and harder for the heart to beat. <a title="noise" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise_health_effects">Noise</a> can make it hard for us to sleep. It can even make us more aggressive. But a few minutes a day of silence helps our brain to relax and find equilibrium again.</p> <h3>4. Make yourself comfortable.</h3> <p>For me, this one is a little more intuitive than some of the others. Not only will we avoid repetitive stress injuries if we take the time to make our workstations ergonomically correct, but we will be happier if we are wearing clothes and shoes that are comfortable. And, as I'll detail later on, <a title="happiness and health" href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=35002">happines correlates positively with health</a>. Apparently, we also may <a title="clothes" href="http://healthfinds.blogspot.com/2007/03/loose-weight-by-wearing-comfortable.html">lose weight!</a></p> <h3>5. Tell yourself to be healthy.</h3> <p>Ok, so this sounds a little <em>Secret</em>-ish. But have you ever had an experience like this? You have a big project due on Wednesday. Many people around you are sick, but you tell yourself over and over that you can't get sick until after the project. You stay healthy, turn the project in, and wake up sick on Thursday morning. I know it's happened to me. So, apparently, what we tell ourselves really matters. On a larger scale, positive <a title="self-talk" href="http://www.indiana.edu/~reading/ieo/digests/d84.html">self-talk leads to reduced stress</a>, which leads to better health.</p> <h3>6. Take a walk.</h3> <p>Human beings weren't made to sit for long periods of time. In fact, <a title="sitting" href="http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/sitting/sitting_overview.html">sitting for long periods</a> of time (at work, on a plane, in a car, etc.) can cause all sorts of injuries, from the obvious back pain to the less obvious blood circulation to the less obvious reduced heart and lung efficiency. Scary! There are several series of slightly goofy-looking exercises you can do when you're in a situation where you have to sit for a long time, or you can just get up and walk. Walk around your cube, around the office, to the bathroom on the other side of the building. Just take the pressure off your spine and move around! In addition, <a title="walk run" href="http://www.hoptechno.com/book9.htm">walking</a> is as effective (or more!) than running for physical fitness.</p> <h3>7. Relax your muscles the natural way.</h3> <p>Sure, muscle relaxants are good when you're in severe pain, but who wants to walk around like a zombie all the time? Ok, don't answer that! But there is a natural way to gently relax muscles. <a title="quinine" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinine">Quinine</a>, generally given to combat malaria, also relaxes muscles. And the best part? It's available in tonic water (regular and diet) and bitter lemon, both of which you might have leftover as mixers from your last party. A glass of tonic water before bed can help your relax into your sleep.</p> <h3>8. Cultivate happiness.</h3> <p>Whatever makes you happy, do it (unless grisly murders make you grin &mdash; then consider your unhappiness a sacrifice for society's sake). Why? Because <a title="happiness" href="http://whyfiles.org/shorties/193success_happy/">happiness has a strong correllation to health</a>. No one seems to know quite why this is so, but studies show over and over that it is.</p> <h3>9. Relax your jaw.</h3> <p>Sort of like your hamstrings, your jaw is connected to lots of other parts of your body, though it particularly influences the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Relax the jaw and the tongue (make sure it's lying on the bottom of your mouth and not pressed up againt the top), and feel the muscles in your neck and shoulders let down. Apparently it's so effective, they're encouraging <a title="relax jaw" href="http://www.mvhealth.com/healthyliving/aug26-2002-3.htm">pregnant women to do it while in labor</a>!</p> <h3>10. Avoid pollution.</h3> <p>Most <a title="pollutants" href="http://healthandenergy.com/air_pollution_health_effects.htm">pollution is toxic</a>. It's made up of things that are bad for your body. Even if it doesn't cause cancer or something else life-threatening, a cough, a sneeze, or a runny nose all get in your way. It's true that you often don't know when you're around a pollutant if it's not bother you, but <a title="pollution" href="http://edugreen.teri.res.in/EXPLORE/air/health.htm">avoiding the ones you do know about</a> is a great place to start. Look forward to improved respiration, circulation, and happier eyes and nasal passages.</p> <p>As they say in Ireland, may you live a long life, full of gladness and health. With a pocket full of gold, as the least of your wealth.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-killer-ways-to-feel-like-a-million-bucks-even-if-your-bank-account-says-otherwise-0">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-youre-doing-these-4-exercises-your-workouts-are-worth-nothing">If You&#039;re Doing These 4 Exercises, Your Workouts Are Worth Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise">5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-feel-more-attractive-without-actually-changing-how-you-look">12 Ways to Feel More Attractive Without Actually Changing How You Look</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-habits-that-are-quietly-making-you-fat-and-have-nothing-to-do-with-eating">7 Habits That Are Quietly Making You Fat (and Have Nothing to Do With Eating)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-non-physical-benefits-of-exercise">10 Surprising, Non-Physical Benefits of Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Personal Development body hacks cultivate happiness quinine Tue, 15 May 2007 17:16:01 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 645 at http://www.wisebread.com