How to Control (and Minimize) Negative Emotions

Stoicism has gotten a bad rap.

These days, when people think “stoic,” they think “emotionless.” “Indifferent to pleasure and pain” is now literally a definition of the word “stoic.”

That’s not what the Stoics were going for.

For the Stoics, the goal is not to avoid all emotion. It is to minimize negative emotion. I can see where people get confused, though.

I am often accused (usually jokingly, but often enough to take the hint) of being emotionless.

I disagree with this assessment. I feel plenty of emotions. I just try not to dwell on negative emotions.

And I try not to act on them, either. Continue reading “How to Control (and Minimize) Negative Emotions”

Why You Should Ask Why

Gretchen Rubin wrote a book on forming habits called Better Than Before.

There are a few other good books on habits (I recommend Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit), but Rubin’s big innovation was identifying different personality types. Some habit-building techniques work for some people, but there are very few universal approaches that work for everyone. Rubin divides her readers into four groups and then provides tips specific to each group.

Under Rubin’s framework, I am a Questioner.

“Questioners question all expectations, and they respond to an expectation only if they conclude that it makes sense. They’re motivated by reason, logic, and fairness. They wake up and think, ‘What needs to get done today, and why?’ They decide for themselves whether a course of action is a good idea, and they resist doing anything that seems to lack sound purpose.”

Beyond habit-building, this is a pretty good view into my permanent mindset. I ask “Why?” about pretty much everything, and if the answer is any variation of “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” then I’m out.

Continue reading “Why You Should Ask Why”

Getting Better Results in Less Time

Today I want to explore a quick tool called an 80/20 analysis that can help you achieve better results in a shorter period of time.

The 80/20 analysis is based on the Pareto Principle. This principle was named for Vilfredo Pareto, who found in the late 1800s that 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of Italians in the same way that 80% of the peas produced in his garden came from 20% of the peapods. This finding was one of many analyzing inequality and examining how the few end up with so much in our economies.

From this and similar findings of the tilting of economic benefits, Pareto decided that democracy was an illusion and a ruling class would always emerge from the 20%.

In modern parlance, this extreme conclusion has been ignored and the Pareto Principle has become more of a rule of thumb applied to a wide range of areas.

While my interest in politics and economics would push me to examine the implications for modern income inequality and the policy proposals to address it, this blog is about providing tools and information that is helpful to individuals.

So instead, we’ll be looking at the modern version.

(Don’t worry. I’ve found other excuses to talk about bigger issues of politics and economics.)

Continue reading “Getting Better Results in Less Time”

When is More Money Worth Your Time?

If you want to make or save more money, you’re going to need to spend your time.

Side hustles and in-depth investment strategies take time. Cutting coupons and comparison shopping take time.

Most methods for making more money or for saving more money cost you time.

When is that exchange worth it?

Continue reading “When is More Money Worth Your Time?”

Comfort is Not Happiness

I spend a lot of time reading, thinking, and writing about happiness.

For years before I started writing here, I was just looking for ways to improve my own life. I wanted to understand why people who seemed like they had everything were still unhappy.

I wanted to find the traps that others fell into so that I could avoid them.

It is quite clear to me at this point that most people are not as happy as they could be. 

And I believe that the main culprit is mistaking comfort for happiness.

Continue reading “Comfort is Not Happiness”

Does the Meaning of Life Matter?

One fast track to a happy life is meaning.

Research repeatedly shows that individuals with a sense of meaning in their lives are happier than everybody else.

A sense of meaning or purpose gives us a feeling that we are part of something larger than ourselves. This, in turn, fuels self-worth, a sense of identity, and a feeling of community and belonging.

All of these are traits that boost happiness, so you can see how meaning can be a super booster.

So all we need to do is figure out the meaning of life.

Continue reading “Does the Meaning of Life Matter?”

Make Your Life More Like a Video Game

When I was growing up, the consensus of the intellectual crowd was that video games were bad for you.

No good could come of sitting in front of a screen instead of going outside. Video games were going to turn our brains into mush.

In some more extreme cases, violent video games were blamed for school shootings.

Since then, however, there has been a quiet revolution. Continue reading “Make Your Life More Like a Video Game”

As Happy as an Old Person

As I’ve noted before, I’ve done a lot of reading on happiness. One consistent finding of studies across the spectrum is that older people are happier than the rest of us.

Despite the declining health that accompanies old age, study after study finds that happiness increases into our senior years.

The freedom of childhood is less happy. The health of young adulthood doesn’t compare. The financial stability of middle age doesn’t do it for us.

So what is it about seniors that makes them happy? And what can we learn from them?

Continue reading “As Happy as an Old Person”

Is It Worth It? (Why I Save So Much, Part 4)

Over the last couple weeks I’ve run through a lot of my philosophy behind saving and investing. I discussed that I invest at least as much as I spend every month because I want to buy options for my life, because I see the value of labor declining over time, and because I don’t want to need to start a new career path if mine gets automated out of existence.

The big question for most people at this point is: “Is it worth it?” Continue reading “Is It Worth It? (Why I Save So Much, Part 4)”

On Quitting and Time Management

I debated quitting this blog recently.

When I started writing last summer, I put some rules in place. I assumed that there would be some valleys, and I didn’t want to give up when things got tough.

First, I agreed that I would write for at least a year before I reassessed. That year isn’t up until July.

A few months in, I also signed up to attend FinCon (the annual financial writer/blogger/podcaster convention) in 2017. FinCon isn’t until the end of October, so I figured I would push through until at least then to meet and learn from some of the great people that I’ve connected with in this community.

I took both of those steps before the election. Continue reading “On Quitting and Time Management”