Lessons Learned from Lives Well-Lived

On Tuesday I wrote about the recent death of my grandfather. I was planning to write and post that article earlier, but could not convince myself to write after that event was followed up a week later by the death of my other grandfather.

After going most of my life without having to deal with many deaths of loved ones, there have been quite a few packed into the last few years.

This has been hard. I continue to remind myself that death is what gives meaning to life. It is natural and necessary. It is important.

It still sucks. Continue reading “Lessons Learned from Lives Well-Lived”

Death and Happiness

My grandfather passed away recently. It has been a tough few years for my family, but we have felt a lot of love and support from each other as well as from our community and network of friends.

My cousin gave an excellent eulogy at the funeral. One thing that he noted is that Papa has been insisting that every encounter with him could be the last for years. For at least the last decade, he has insisted that he is almost out of time. Continue reading “Death and Happiness”

Happiness Causes Success

Last week Cait Flanders wrote about how some people treated happiness as a general vibe that they exude and others pursued happiness as a destination. Thinking about this idea started me on a path that had me digging back through my notes on happiness research.

Our culture tends to treat happiness as a destination. Happiness is a goal for which you strive. And of course, the most surefire way to reach happiness is to be successful.

If we stop and think about this premise though, it falls apart. If success causes happiness, then we should be able to see the results. Continue reading “Happiness Causes Success”

Find Your Own Tribe

A lot of advice for succeeding involves being different. Avoiding blending in. Not following the crowd.

Just be yourself! Be weird! People will appreciate it!

And that may all be true. But it doesn’t make it easy.

Even if being different makes sense and is logical, our brains are not built for it.

We have an evolutionary need to fit in.

Continue reading “Find Your Own Tribe”

You Do Have Time

It has become a sign of success in the modern world to say that you’re busy.

Being busy signifies that you are a hard worker. You have plenty of opportunities. You are important. And everyone wants to be important!

So you will often hear “I don’t have time.”

“I’d love to have a weekend away with my family, but I don’t have time.”

“I’d love to take up skiing, but I just don’t have the time.”

“I wish I could read as much as you do, but I’m always so busy that I don’t have time.”

You do have the time, though. We all do. We’re just choosing not to use it on that particular activity. Continue reading “You Do Have Time”

The Things We Cannot Change

There is often a great power in quotes.

When someone can distill an idea or a philosophy into a short, memorable collection of words, it can become a kind of mantra for people. It can be a reminder of how they want to live their life and how to be their best selves.

One example of this is the Serenity Prayer. Continue reading “The Things We Cannot Change”

When Buying Happiness, Pay Up Front

Last week we learned that one of the best ways to buy happiness is to spend money on experiences rather than things. Today, I want to explore a trick to squeeze a little extra happiness out of those same purchases.

The trick is paying in advance for as much of your experience as you can.

This helps increase the happiness you get from your experience in a few ways. First, it separates the event itself from the pain of paying. Next, the anticipation and delayed gratification will make you happier. Finally, in looking forward to your experience, the uncertainty of what is to come will bring you some extra happiness, as well. Continue reading “When Buying Happiness, Pay Up Front”

How to Buy Happiness

I apologize in advance for the inherent humblebraginess of vacation pictures. I did warn you, though.

I am generally a pretty frugal person. Three of my last four posts have been about saving money. I’ve written about cognitive biases that get in the way of saving money. I’ve written about the best way to hit savings goals.

And yet, I just spent a whole bunch of money on a three-week vacation to South Africa and Spain. This came thirteen months after a trip to Peru. Which itself came eight months after a honeymoon in the Bahamas (which, to be fair, was paid for with hotel points).

The sun setting over the Atlantic from Cape Town

This may seem out of character or incongruent with my savings focus. But I don’t save money for the sake of saving money. I don’t intend to be the richest man in the cemetery. And while I would love to reach financial independence, I am not aiming to get there as soon as possible by any means necessary. Instead, I want to live my best (and happiest) life with as little waste as possible. Continue reading “How to Buy Happiness”

Happy Giving Tuesday!

You may have noticed that the last few days have been quite geared towards consumerism.

First, you had Black Friday, which in many places now actually starts on Thanksgiving.

Next came Small Business Saturday, which came about as a response to Black Friday intended to help smaller companies keep up with the big box stores.

And finally, yesterday, we had Cyber Monday, when the online retailers follow suit.

That’s quite a few days aimed directly at getting us to buy more things.

If you’re frustrated by the increasing consumerism and focus on buying stuff that has consumed the weekend after Thanksgiving, you are not alone. One group is trying to shift the focus from consumerism to charity. Continue reading “Happy Giving Tuesday!”

The Ancient Art of Being Thankful for What We Have

In looking into ways of dealing with disappointment we explored the Stoic practice of imagining the things that could go wrong in our lives. This is a great tool for helping us blunt the painful feeling of disappointment that accompanies loss.

However, this is not the only benefit to this practice.

Continue reading “The Ancient Art of Being Thankful for What We Have”