Tag Archives: happiness

Would You Say I Have a Plethora of Friday Links?

Well friends,

It was two years ago this month that I started Couch to 5K, and tomorrow I run my first half marathon. Yeehaw! This week has been about catching up from all my out of town travel, tapering, and eating carbs. (Any excuse.) I’m sure I’ll check in afterwards and get all bloggy about it, but in the meantime… wish me luck!

As for link love, we have TONS of stuff this week. So I’ll just dump ‘em here without too much comment. Enjoy:

~

Objects Make of Paper — Colossal

Made of paper. Paper:

paper-7

~

Making Room for the Sabbath and Keeping it Holy — LGBT Weekly

A good primer, if for some reason you haven’t already gotten that from me…

How can we do this? There are a number of spiritual practices you might want to incorporate: daily devotions, weekly worship, eating right, exercise, acts of kindness, focused prayer.

There are also a number of Sabbath-day practices you might consider: going for a contemplative walk; having some friends over to play games; “unplugging” from your cell phone for a few hours; going for a drive on Sunday afternoon and showing up at somebody’s house at suppertime! OK, maybe not that last one. But you get the idea.

~

Does Stress Hide Deeper Social Problems? — Time

Yes:

There’s no amount of counseling, kale, or yoga — even if these were available or affordable to everyone in the U.S. — that will alter the economic, political, and social forces that sustain poverty or war in the age of terrorism, or what we glibly call “work-family conflict.” We’re going to have to throw out the bath oil with the bath water if we’re going to tackle the social problems that actually create the stress we bemoan today.

~

Creative Pro-Tip: Take Things Away Until You Cry — 99U

These made me think:

  • If you meet a person who cares about the same obscure things you do, hold on to them for dear life.

  • Start brave and brash: you can always make things more conservative, but it’s hard to make things more radical.

~

Daring New Ideas from TED 2013 — Brene Brown

Brene’s picks for the best stuff this year. Links to three talks, including the one by Amanda Palmer that’s just stellar.

~

The Economy of Punishment — Harvard Business Review

Quite simply, our fear prevents us from recognizing and finding appropriate channels for the talents of our criminal population. As a result, we have institutionalized a simple formula for dealing with such individuals: capture, punish and isolate.

This formula has become a curse, resulting in an epidemic of incarceration across the United States.

So how, as a society, do we develop new instincts towards criminals and what strategies can be effectively employed to reduce the rate of incarceration and the rate of recidivism?

Many gangsters are natural born innovators with restricted economic opportunities. Nobody understands this better than Catherine (Cat) Rohr, who quit her job in private equity to become a champion for the incarcerated. As she told us, “Initially I had this attitude that people in prison were the scum of the earth, that they were a waste of tax dollars.” But in getting to know the prison population better, Cat’s position began to change. “I suddenly realized I was meeting entrepreneurs in prison. That these guys who had run drug businesses had all these entrepreneurial characteristics like scrappiness, charisma, and real skills in leadership and management.” With this realization, Cat began a life committed to honoring the talents and skills of those in prison.

As part of this journey, Cat launched a program called Defy Ventures, in New York, that provides a business incubator for ex-offenders who then have an opportunity to compete for $150,000 in seed capital for their businesses. At the core of Cat’s program is a powerful acknowledgement of the skills and talents that former drug dealers and gang leaders possess. From there it’s just a matter of pivoting these street skills into the world of formal entrepreneurship. For many ex-cons, who face discrimination from employers after getting out of prison, Cat’s program offers an MBA-like training matched with exposure to leading entrepreneurs, investors, and potential employers.

~

Top Secret Drum Corps — Colossal

A-ma-zing:

~

Clare Booth Luce’s Advice to Her 18 Year Old Daughter — Brain Pickings

Includes links to other words of wisdom from authors and artists to their children.

“The main thing is to get what little happiness there is out of life in this wartorn world because ‘these are the good old days’ now.”

~

Living with Less. A Lot Less — New York Times

Living with less as it’s described in this article means deciding what kind of person/family you’re going to be, in some sense. If you have no camping equipment, especially if you had camping equipment and you give it away, you’ve made a decision: we are not going to be a family that camps.

Nothing particularly wise there, just something that came to me as I read the article. I guess you could borrow stuff. But I do think that these discussions about simplifying are harder when you have children. Giving kids opportunities to try things necessitates acquiring the equipment required for them to try it. And when they lose interest, how do you know whether it’s temporary or permanent?

~

Freelancing in the Digital Age — Andrew Sullivan

I’m now having to do a lot more negotiating and advocating for myself when it comes to money, so I found this discussion interesting:

A little while back, I was contributing a piece to a publication that I was thrilled to be writing for: high prestige, high visibility, great roster of fellow contributors. I was honored to be asked. And when the editor mentioned my fee, I was initially eager to say yes. But something told me to hold back (for once—I am usually a very poor negotiator). I thought about who else was contributing, what demands they or their agents might have made, the fact that there’s probably always wiggle room … and I typed this into an e-mail: “I’ll do it for whatever you pay Sam Lipsyte.”

~

Letting Go — A Deeper Story

Written by my friend Troy Bronsink, who has a great new book out about creativity and the life of faith:

“We think that its best for Neighbors Abbey that you no longer be Presbyterian” were the words she said. But what I heard was: “Just 3 years in we’re backing out of our 7 year grant commitment, and now you have 6 months to double your annual fund raising from $25k to $50K.” It reminded me of the arrows I shot in scouting camp as a kid. Hers landing dead center.  Mine… well I’d pulled the string but there was no chance it was gonna go where I’d aimed. Not any more.  I didn’t even have to watch to find out.

~

Have a great weekend, everyone. Peace be with you.

Link Love for Kids

Our girls (10 and 7) got iPad minis for Christmas. We agonized over the decision. On the one hand, we wondered whether they were too young to be responsible with Pandora’s box. On the other hand, now felt like the perfect time to start teaching them good habits, etiquette and practices. They’re young enough that they actually care what we have to say and are interested in learning how to be safe on the Internet. They want to know the rules and follow them. Plus the stakes are low. The only people who email or text them are family.

And the videos they make of one another are hilarious.

I still feel mildly panicked about their access to this technology. I ask them to be in the room with me, especially when they’re online.

But it’s been fun to share links with them. Pre-tween kids love stuff like this:

url

Guinea pig, dinosaur costume

So in the spirit of sharing fun/educational/amusing stuff with children, here’s a special edition of link love, kid-style:

The 30 Happiest Facts of All Time — Buzzfeed

Note: BE CAREFUL WITH BUZZFEED. There is kid-inappropriate stuff on the site. But there’s also more kid-appropriate stuff than you might think. Supervise and verify. This particular link is great: otters hold hands in the water. The guy who does the voice of Mickey Mouse married the gal who does the voice of Minnie. A group of ferrets is called a “business.”

And turtles can breathe through their butt.

~

Macaulay Library — Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Here you will find thousands of hours of audio and video of birdcalls and birdsong. I heard about this on Studio 360, a great podcast about creativity, pop culture and the arts.

~

Pitch Drop Experiment Webcam — University of Queensland

Caroline is obsessed with this webcam since hearing a story on Radiolab. The drop of pitch is supposed to go any time now, and by “any time” it could be months or years, and in the meantime she has schoolwork and life and Flash doesn’t even work on her iPad but hey, this is quirky science we’re talking about!

~

Extreme Happiness — Aleksander Gamme, YouTube

This is an oldie (relatively speaking) but goodie in our house. Alex is a Norwegian guy who did a solo trek across Antarctica and buried food along the way for the return trip. The sheer joy expressed in this video, on day 86 when he is VERY hungry, never fails to give us the giggles.

What’s giving you the giggles today?

 

Guess What the Key to Happiness Is?

[Cross-posted at the Sabbath blog.]

On-a-slow-day,-you-are-too-busy-doing-nothing!

From the Pacific Standard. According to a new study:

Who among us are the most happy? Newly published research suggests it is those fortunate folks who have little or no excess time, and yet seldom feel rushed.

This busy but blissful group comprises 8 to 12 percent of Americans, making it “a small and unusual minority within the general population,” writes University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson.

According to his analysis, the happiness level of this group is 12 to 25 percent higher than that of those of most Americans. What’s more, while the general population’s happiness level is going down, theirs is increasing…

So the question is, how does one cultivate this busyness + lack of hurry? Is it a person’s temperament? Or is it a matter of circumstance?

And what might Sabbath—an intentional time to stop, look, and listen—have to do with it?

Friday Link Love: Nude Dancers, Suburban Living, and the Empathic Rat

First, a link to my article at catapult magazine for their 10 Things edition: 10 Ways to Savor Your Time in 2013.

Annnnnd…. away we go:

~

Time-Lapse Images of Nude Dancers Created with 10,000 Individual Photographs — Colossal

Obligatory Colossal Post. Lots more at the link:

nude_8

~

Five Easy Things to a Happier Year — National Catholic Review

I’m keeping it light on the New Year’s resolutions/intentions this year. I’m already running a half marathon, promoting a book and planning the next one—that’s plenty to keep me busy. Plus I’m all about the improv and less about the major planning. But I can get behind these:

Be a Little Kinder.  I think that 90% of the spiritual life is being a kind person.   No need to have any advanced degrees in theology or moral reasoning, and no need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s religious traditions, to get this: Be gentler and more compassionate towards other people.

I like the one about enjoying nature more. Reminds me of one of my father-in-law’s practices. When he comes home from work, he takes a moment between car and house to look up. Just to see what the sky looks like. I love that.

~

Why Do Americans Have Less Vacation Time Than Anyone Else? — Big Think

This one gets in my craw. It’s not the most pressing issue we face, but it is a justice issue and a spiritual issue:

Like many of you, I am on vacation this week. For most Americans, Christmas week represents about half of the time off we will enjoy all year long. Compared with Australians (at least 4 weeks off, plus 10 public holidays), Brazilians (22 days of paid leave with a 33 percent salary vacation bonus) and the French (at least 5 weeks off and as many as 9 for many public employees), we are seriously bereft.

Look at how the United States stacks up against the rest of the developed world in number of mandatory days off each year:

Screen_Shot_2012-12-23_at_10.02.37_AM

What is that all about, do you think?

~

How People Live in the Suburbs: A Vintage Illustrated Gem — Brain Pickings

How People Live In The Suburbs was published as part of a Basic Understanding series of primary school supplements, also including How People Earn and Use MoneyHow Farms Help Us, and How Our Government Helps Us — all, sadly, out of print but delightful if you’re able to secure a copy.

Click the link above for more images. These are just cute and bizarre:

B0006CK9FS

~

The Five Types of Work That Fill Your Day — 99U

I’m still using Toggl to keep track of how much time I spend on creative work, connecting with people, and doing logistics. Read more about that process here.

But based on this article it would be interesting to do an audit of my time to see how much of my day is spent on Reactionary, Planning, Procedural, Insecurity, and Problem-solving tasks. Good tips here for how to bring things into a frutful balance for your situation.

~

The Power and the Allegory: A Book of Interviews with Madeleine L’Engle — BookForum

The book itself is called Listening for Madeleine. From the BookForum article:

L’Engle’s faith was deeply untraditional. A mathematics professor who advised her on A Wrinkle in Time says the three beings who guide Meg on her interplanetary journey—Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which—were meant to be angels, but they could just as easily be mistaken for witches. And the novel’s dominant image of evil is an undefined blackness that casts its shadow across a wide band of the universe, including Earth. Camazotz, a planet controlled by the blackness, is not a hotbed of violence and depravity but a vision of perfect order. All the houses are identical, the children bounce their balls in perfect unison, and anyone who refuses to submit to the program is punished. “I am freedom from all responsibility,” the evil power croons to Meg. But she recognizes that this is a false consolation, a substitution of conformity for equality. “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!” she screams.

The fundamental lesson is that it’s OK—even desirable—to be a misfit.

Looking back, I’d say that A Wrinkle in Time formed my early theology as much as (or let’s be honest, more than) the Bible.

Incidentally, I’m putting this post together on Thursday, and Caroline is in the chair next to me with the new graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time. I gave it to her for Christmas and she’s already on her second reading of it.

~

A New Model of Empathy: The Rat — Washington Post

I expect there is more of this going on in the animal kingdom than we want to admit:

In a simple experiment, researchers at the University of Chicago sought to find out whether a rat would release a fellow rat from an unpleasantly restrictive cage if it could. The answer was yes.

The free rat, occasionally hearing distress calls from its compatriot, learned to open the cage and did so with greater efficiency over time. It would release the other animal even if there wasn’t the payoff of a reunion with it. Astonishingly, if given access to a small hoard of chocolate chips, the free rat would usually save at least one treat for the captive — which is a lot to expect of a rat.

~

May your weekend be filled with a small hoard of chocolate chips… or whatever delights you.

Beyond the Bucketlist

Yesterday I got the edits back from the publisher, and I’m hoping to turn them around in the next week. So I’ll be a blogging a little less than usual.

But first, I wanted to pass along three wise paragraphs about bucketlists. Bucketlists, of course, are those laundry lists of “exotic sensations of one kind or another (“Skydive”; “Shower in a waterfall”; “Eat jellied eels from a stall in London”).”

I am all for experiences that take us out of the everyday, but I resonated with the author’s critique of bucketlists:

Really? This is the best we can do? This is what it’s all about? These are the things that make our lives worth living? When I think about what really makes me happy, what I really crave, I come up with a very different list: concentrated, purposeful work, especially creative work; being with people I love; feeling like I’m part of something larger. Meaning, connectedness, doing strenuously what you do well: not sights, not thrills, and not even pleasures, as welcome as they are. Not passivity, not letting the world come in and tickle you, but creativity, curiosity, altruism, engagement, craft. Raising children, or teaching students, or hanging out with friends. Playing music, not listening to it. Making things, or making them happen. Thinking hard and feeling deeply.

At their best, religious communities are places that call forth these moments of purposeful work and connectedness. They are not the only places that do this, of course.

This essay resonates with me, since I’m not in a very Dive the Great Barrier Reef kind of place. This week, I’ll be seeking satisfaction in simple things: this week’s muffins. Welcoming Robert home from his trip to New York. Moderating a session meeting. Trying to make James laugh.

And trying to put words together in a way that matters.

h/t: Andrew Sullivan