Here at Optimize Your Life we are spending 2018 improving our lives. Each month gets its own theme, and April’s is the science of happiness.
We’ve already learned that 40% of our happiness is fully within our control and changes based on our thoughts and actions rather than being linked to our situation or genetics. We’ve looked at some actions that we can take by imitating the surprising amount of happiness that get at work and we’ve looked at how changing our thought patterns by practicing gratitude and appreciating the present can make us happier.
Today I want to take another swing at the “thoughts” side of the equation. Let’s look at the science behind how we can adjust our mindset for a happier life. Continue reading “Looking on the Bright Side”
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”
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?”
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”
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”
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”
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”
If you’ve spent much time around these parts you may have noticed that I read a lot. One way that I find new books is by seeing who the authors that I like are reading.
Turns out, a lot of them have read Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. Continue reading “How to Grow Your Mind”
Last week we talked about the Serenity Prayer and the importance of being able to let go of things that are outside of your control. Today, we’re going to talk about why this is not an excuse for tuning out politics.
It is quite popular in the personal finance community to argue that we should be disengaged from politics. That elections don’t really matter. That we shouldn’t be wasting our time investing in candidates or caring about elections.
This was an especially prevalent topic this past November. The whole world seemed to be hanging on every word out of the candidates’ mouths, and the personal finance blogosphere was having none of it.
Today I want to present a different view.
Elections matter. Government matters. Politics matters. And we need to do the things that are within our power to influence these things to the best of our ability.
Continue reading “Politics and the Things We Can Control”
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”