Solve for Happy

happiness

What is the happiness formula from an engineer’s point of view? Mo Gawdat, the author of Solve for happy, has written one like this:

I like this equation as simple as that. Simply changing our expectations and how we see our lives will make us happy. If we manage to have no demands from our loved ones, we feel happy. A friend of mine, Sasha, once told me she’s happy in her marriage because she has no expectations. With no expectations, the joy settles in.

Another key factor is whether we see everything that happens in life with a positive lens or not. Jackie, one of my readers, shared with me a good news about seeing the good in bad times. The story was about people recovered from Covid-19 donated their plasma towards finding a cure. This is an example of turning a disaster into something wonderful!

There are many things in life we can’t control. All we can control is our actions (towards the goal) and attitude (focus on the good). Let’s have some awareness breaks every day to live our lives in here and now, not inside the head. Be aware of any selfish thoughts as any thought that stems from ego is bound to disappoint.

Golden rule for happiness: choose to believe in the side that makes you happy

What’s your state of mind?

The book Solve for happy has covered the illusions we might have, like time and control. I love the way Mo Gawdat explains complex stuff with simple metaphors for easy understanding. What I like the most is the graph above for joy check. It’s a great way to know what our state of mind is right away! For example, I’m unemployed and I’m thinking I’m free to learn new things I want (positive thoughts) so I’m in a state of happiness. What state are you in?

Happy reading!

Simple Secrets

happiness

                                                                 

What’s the most important thing that determines our happiness? Most people say it’s the quality of relationships that we have with ourselves and other people! If that’s true, we better work more on building great relationships. Wouldn’t you agree? After reading 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships and 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People, I select 3 points from each book and they share similar meanings. They are so simple that we tend to overlook them.

Friendship beats money

Money matters less over time

The way we talk about our family and friends can tell others if we are happy or not. Good relationships make us feel food. Bad relationships make us feel bad. As simple as that. Shall we pay more attention to cultivate friendships daily?

See possibilities

If you’re not sure, guess positively.

During the COVID-19 adversity, I was laid off as my previous company underwent restructuring. I accepted this circumstance but I chose to see possibilities of earning money even in tough times. With focus and effort, I explored various ways to increase personal finance. Luckily, I found a new job with even better pay after job hunting for a month! I could earn more through freelancing and investing stocks too. I felt so blessed, grateful, and surprised by the possibilities.

Attitude triumphs outcome

It’s not what happened, it’s how you think about what happened.

When it comes to the process of getting a life partner or keeping the relationship, how can we stay positive? Take this attitude: continue being someone who sees the good around you, and continue being someone who would offer love, affection, and support to the right partner.

 

Happy reading!

Human Nature

happiness

 

During this uncertain time of COVID-19, I dive into a book recommended by a fellow book lover Cherie White. She loves reading psychology and introduces me to a book called The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

The book is thick yet a good read! It makes me confront my flaws and helps me understand myself and other people more. It has many great stories of legend such as Coco Chanel as examples to illustrate different human nature.

I love the story about how a captain saves the lives of his crew with his empathetic skills when facing dangerous storms. The captain infects the crew with his mindset on the nonverbal level by acting in a relaxing manner despite the difficult situations.

He is able to divide his attention almost equally between crew members. He reads their emotional states in their tone of voice and looks for any signs of frustration or insecurity in their words and gestures.

In detecting any dips in spirit or negativity, he is gentle and engages them in talk. He enters their spirit, and find indirect ways to either elevate their mood or isolate them without making them realize what he is doing. In the end, no one dies under the caption’s leadership.

After reading the whole book, I get a sense that self-awareness is the most important for us to be a better person. Self-awareness is the third eye. We need that to be more conscious of what we are experiencing.

I take a note of some parts from the book that I love and you can take a look to get the positivity to stay happy and creative:

Increase self-awareness

Examine your emotions:

Use a journal to record your self-assessments with objectivity. Observe your actions with a bit of detachment and even humor.

Increase your reaction time:

Step back and give it a day. We can stop reacting to everything. Cool the emotions.

Practice empathy

Don’t change people. Instead, see other people as neutral as comets or plants. They simply exist. They come in all varieties, making life rich and interesting. Work with what they give you, instead of resisting and trying to change them. Make understanding people a fun game, the solving of puzzles.

Open your mind to seeing people in a new light. Each person you meet is like an undiscovered country. This flexible, open spirit is similar to creative energy – a willingness to consider more possibilities and options.

The key to employing empathy within a relationship is to understand the value system of the other person. What they interpret as signs of love or attention or generosity tends to diverge from your way of thinking. Keeping in mind their value system will allow you to enter their spirit and perspective precisely at the moment you would normally turn defensive.

Change your attitude

How to view the world:
See yourself as an explorer. Leave all that certainty behind you. You’re in continual search of new ideas and new ways of thinking.

How to view adversity:
Embrace all the obstacles as learning experiences, as a means of getting stronger.

How to view yourself:
Whatever you are doing now, you are in fact capable of much more.

How to view other people:
See people as facts of nature. They come in all varieties, like flowers or rocks. You must accept diversity and the fact that people are what they are. Your open, generous spirit will make your social interactions much smoother, and people will be drawn to you.

You must recognize your state of self-absorption and how little you actually observe. Open up your senses and relate to people more on the physical level. Pay deep attention to the moods of people, as indicated by their body language and tone of voice.

Happy reading!

good marriage

happiness

It’s amazing that happy couples can make love last. Is keeping yourself happy the key to a happy marriage? The good marriage sounds like a miracle when the divorce rate is high in modern days. First of all, do we have a definition of a good marriage? The book The Good Marriage has the answer.

What is a good marriage?

🤣Humor
😊Safe
😍The idealization of the other is part of every happy marriage
💋Satisfying sex life
😇Grateful to each other for the changes they had experienced over the years
💑Talk about what we want for the future and let’s see what we have in common
🗣💕Set some time for talking about the relationship
🤲Give more than you expect to get

😜Keep interests alive by trying new things
😎Distinguish between big things and little things, knowing what’s important
🤗Mutual protection is at the heart of marriage
😢Provide emotional nurturance
⚖Fairness was far more important than exactly how the chores were allocated

When coping with a crisis, what would a happy couple do?

The Good Marriage shows that they protect each other against self-reproach and they don’t blame each other. They also take steps to allow some degree of pleasure and humor. Make a safe place for conflict and make it clear that the fighting will not breach the walls of the marriage. Hope everyone has the intention to keep a good marriage.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

Wired for dating & love

happiness

Having good relationships with others makes life happier. What if we date mindfully? Dating is about getting to know other people and ourselves. In any relationship, appreciation is the key to better communication while complaint stops communication. In other words, relationships will be strengthened when we focus on the good. And vise versa. This is the essence and easier said than done.

I read two books, Wire for dating and Wired for love, by Stan Tatkin who is a marriage and family therapist. These two books share the same concept: understand yourself and your partner well in terms of the attachment style (anchor, wave or island) and build the couple bubble together.

Secure Anchor “Anchors are secure as individuals, willing to commit and fully share with another, generally happy people and adapt easily to the needs of the moment.”

Anxious Wave “Waves are generous and giving, focused on the care of others, happiest when around other people and able to see both sides of an issue.”

Avoidant Island “Islands are independent and self-reliant, take good care of themselves, productive and creative, especially when given space and low maintenance.”

I’m an island. But I find myself being wave and anchor sometimes. It doesn’t matter what attachment style we belong to. Most importantly, we can communicate with others in a way that fosters understanding when we are aware of each other’s attachment style.

How to date wisely?

I’m curious to know how would Stan Tatkin suggest people to date wisely. I’ve summed up some key points for you and take myself as an example to get the big picture.

Clear about what you want

First of all, let me try to create an imaginary ideal partner and be clear about what I want. My ideal partner is good looking, taller than me, fit and stylish. It’s most likely to meet him in the gym, cafe, bookshops, beach, and mountains. He is caring, generous and reliable. He has some long-term relationships in the past. He is financially stable and a long-term investor. He is an architect/entrepreneur/programmer/another professional. He loves reading, traveling, surfing, tennis, gym, yoga, photography, art, and design.

The fog of infatuation

It seems there is nothing we can do about the infatuation or the rosy filter we have for others when meeting new people. So simply be mindful of the infatuation and be aware of the chemicals or hormones in our body when we are dating. It might help us not fall for someone who is so charming too soon.

Familiarity

When I try to develop an awareness of my dating pattern. I notice that I like to date people who are narcissistic or egotistic. I guess this is because I am a self-centered person too. I also have a tendency to like people who don’t care about me and I tend to reject people who do care. Not being treated well feels familiar and I have misunderstood that’s love. It’s important to notice what feels familiar. A familiar but sick dating pattern can hinder me from finding true love. After noticing the old dating pattern, it’s time to create a new pattern dating people who are generous and caring. With repeated exposure to generosity and care, that will become familiar and attractive to me soon. Remember to focus on people who pay efforts to get to know each other.

Start the process of vetting

The screening I do myself may be good or bad so I need the deeper vetting from my friends and family. In the past, I skipped this step, which is a mistake. I will need at least 3 vetters suggested by Stan Tatkin: a family member, a female friend, and a male friend.  What’s more, I will also need an ongoing assessment to see if the partner is a good match.

How to build a couple bubble or a long-lasting relationship?

Building a couple bubble is like having a social contract between two people. The couple has a consensus to commit to making sure each other feel secure and fix any hurt feelings immediately. Creative negotiation and positive communication play an important role here.

Happy reading or listening!

And happy dating!

zig zag

creativity

How to solve a problem creatively?

We all have problems to solve in our lives. If we see creativity as new ways of problem-solving, how creative are we? We can be creative in a zig-zag way as suggested in the book Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. When I take the zig-zag approach to solve my problems, will the results be different? Here’re the 8 steps (the key zig-zag concept from the book) that I take to improve my core strength. I hope this can help reduce my lower back pain.

ASK

Ask questions no one has thought of before

How to build a habit of exercising 30 mins or more daily? How to exercise and have fun at the same time? How to train my core daily without getting bored? How to keep fit every day? How to maintain an everyday exercise routine? How to build strong core muscles with progress and without spending too much money? How can I keep practicing core exercises for at least a year?

LEARN

Learn from a mentor. Practice deliberately and get a deep understanding.

What I have learned by googling my questions is that core muscles are not just about the abdominals. The core also includes the obliques, glutes and lower back. I have collected a series of core exercises for strengthening the core. I also saved many yoga classes for core strength on Youtube.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 1.40.11 AM.png

LOOK

Look with fresh eyes and mindfulness. The way you look at the world determines how creative you can be.

I see a strong core as my strong motive to exercise daily now. My lower back pain problem becomes an opportunity for me to learn yoga and lead a healthy and zen lifestyle. I feel and listen to my body more closely. With new perspectives, I see life differently. Well-being becomes my top priority. Fitness is a part of my lifestyle.

PLAY

Free your mind to wander and get into a relaxed state.

Play is about doing other things for a while when we get stuck at solving a problem. When I feel exhausted at a challenge, shifting my focus to something else is a great way to get new inspirations.

THINK

The best way to come up with creative ideas is to come up with lots of ideas.

We can generate lots of ideas by setting an idea time and quota. Say, I set 10 mins to think of 10 ideas each day. Idea 1: Pick one sport (i.e. yoga) to practice for a year. Idea 2: Practice different sports quarterly. Idea 3: Form a fitness group to exercise daily together. Idea 4: Have a fitness buddy. Idea 5: Join meetup about fitness. Idea 6: Join the gym. Idea 7: Play video games about fitness (i.e. Ring Fit Adventure). Idea 8: Join a fitness boot camp. Idea 9: Record the daily exercise in a journal. Idea 10: Report daily exercise results to a friend. Idea 11: Focus on doing exercise that can train the core. Idea 12: Have a sporty vacation overseas. Idea 13: Exercise 30 mins every morning on weekdays. Idea 14: Exercise one hour over the weekends. Idea 15: Hire a personal trainer. Idea 16: Follow different videos on youtube to exercise. Idea 17: Play VR sports games Idea 18: Participate in sporty events.

FUSE

If you start with unrelated things, you’re almost guaranteed to be more creative. Get inspiration from nature. Imagine you’re the objects of your challenge. Talk to someone different.

I imagine I am the core muscle. How would I like to grow? I like to have a nice view of nature while training. I want to train with other core muscles to have fun together, too.

CHOOSE

Go for simple, elegant, robust. Even after you’ve selected a great idea, there’s always room for improvement.

For my lower back pain problem, I choose a one-year exercise plan as below. Jan: Yoga class daily; Feb-Apr: Ring Fit Adventure daily; May-Jun: swimming/tennis weekly + core yoga daily; Jul-Oct: surfing overseas/wake surfing weekly + core yoga daily; Nov-Dec: hiking weekly + core yoga daily.

MAKE

I started to execute my one-year exercise plan from Jan 2020. I have practiced yoga for 20 days in Jan. Now I’m having fun with Ring Fit Adventure every day. I’m excited to exercise at least 30 mins daily in a fun way. It’s so fun that I can’t help playing more and more until exhausted. This video game is such a great idea to make people exercise more. I’m loving it and can’t wait to play more! It works for me so well. I hope the rest of the plan will go well, too.

What problems are you trying to solve at the moment? You can try the zig-zag way to see if you can come up with new solutions that work for you.

Creative doing!

Wired to create

creativity

What is creativity?

The book Wired to Create has researched the characteristics of highly creative people throughout history. Creative people are described as messy, playful, passionate, highly sensitive, open to new experiences, daydreaming, intuitive, solo, growing from adversity, mindful, think and act differently. These are interesting facts that we might already know. What I love the most from the book is this formula: Inspiration + hard work = creativity.

How to get inspired?

Life is full of sources of inspiration if we take a close look. Newton gets inspired by an apple dropping from a tree.  Literally, anything or anyone can be an inspiration. The books we’ve read or a stranger we’ve met may change the way we see the world. We can get insights or new perspectives by meeting new people, reading new books, traveling to new places, having new hobbies, eating new food, living in new cities, watching new movies and dramas, listening to new music, studying new topics, learning new sports, writing journals, being alone, solo walking, meditating, having showers… Any life events can be inspirations.

Treat all of life’s meaningful moments – the good and the bad – as potential sources of inspiration and motivation.

How to get hard work done?

Don’t think it’s hard work. We’re doomed to finish it in a hard way if “hard work” is in our minds. Think it’s as an expression of life, an expression of who you are, and the art of living. When we change the attitude, our actions will change too. I used to think work is hard work. When I see work as a practice to master creativity, I’m willing to do it again and again. I used to think yoga is hard work as I have to stretch myself to my limit. Yet, the benefits of stretching hard give me the strength that I can’t resist. So I do it every day.

Create. Again and again and again. Take risks and be prepared to fail.

Creative doing!

learned optimism

happiness

Learned optimism: ABCDE

I love reading books about positive psychology. I feel optimistic after knowing some inspiring psychology experiments and findings. Learned Optimism is a good read. I’m happy that I have learned the ABCDE model which is an optimism tool to help us achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

When I did a test about my optimistic level, I thought I’m very optimistic. But the results show that I’m very pessimistic indeed. I was so surprised! It took me a while to accept that I had been wrong about how optimistic I was. I decided to redo the test with the ABCDE model in mind to see if I would get a different result. The second attempt was definitely cheating. But I didn’t care. I was curious to know if there was any change. The second result is… very optimistic. Ha! I learned optimism theoretically.

How do I use the ABCDE model in real life?

A (Adversity): I have a writer’s block

B (Belief): I am not funny so I can’t write funny stories

C (Consequences): I feel bad and stop writing

D (Disputation): Everyone has a sense of humor, although it may be different from others. My friends and I have the same sense of humor. Everything can be learned. Things are hilarious when there is incongruity and the timing is right. (What I’m trying to do here is to disagree my belief by coming up with alternative thoughts and finding evidences to disagree)

E (Energization): I read articles or books and watch videos about comedy writing. I watch sitcoms and comedy movies to get inspired. I have more confidence to use the comedic device in my writing. I try to write again, edit the story, and make it funnier.

The ABCDE model makes me keep going with an optimistic mindset. I feel good to work on my goals without any negative thoughts. You can try ABCDE if you get stuck with something. Stay optimistic, dear! You’re welcome to subscribe to my blog for more happiness updates monthly.

Happy reading!

 

40% happiness

happiness

 

40% of happiness is our choice

The key takeaway from the book The How of Happiness is that we can control 40% of our happiness. 50% is determined by our genes. 10% is determined by life circumstances. The controllable happiness (40%) is about what we think and how we behave every day. In other words, happiness is a state of mind and actions that we can work on daily. It does take some effort to be happy but it is worth it. What else is more important than that?

The book offers many practical activities you can do to enhance your happiness. You can pick some activities that work best for you to practice and see what will happen. After all, happiness is a practice or a habit. I find that I have cultivated some happiness habits suggested in the book. For example, I exercise weekly and I spend time with family and friends. Express gratitude. Commit to lifelong goals. Meditate (live in the moment). Develop new hobbies. Keep a gratitude journal.

Recently, I have been keeping a giving journal. I want to jot down the small things I give to others and the great things others give to me. I have an urge to give more when I realize how little I have given. Like I have better control of how I use the money if I keep track of how much I have spent daily. The giving journal is effective to prompt me to be a more giving person. I become more aware of what and how often I give to others. This makes me happier.

How to see the big picture: Best Possible Self

The book introduces the Best Possible Self exercise to help us see the big picture of our lives. This exercise can also boost our happiness as it creates positive emotions. What’s your big picture? For me, I imagine my life in 3 years like this:

  1. RELATIONSHIPS: I have a loving life partner who stays with me forever and we grow together. I have many inspiring, funny and caring friends around me. My family is happy.
  2. HOBBIES: I travel at least 6 exotic places with surfing spots to enjoy life and nature. (i.e. Morocco, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Cuba, Bali, Philippine, Okinawa, Cairns, etc.)
  3. CAREER: My blog has 1,000 true fans. I read and write a lot of good stuff.
  4. HEALTH: I am healthy, happy and pretty.
  5. FINANCE: I have more than 1 million.

How about your best possible self? I would like to know! I’m sure you will be happy if you write to me. So please feel free to share it with me in the comments section now.

Happy reading!

on writing

creativity

How to write a story or fiction?

I have read Stephen King’s memoir, which is about the craft of writing. I love it from start to end. It’s like listening to a piece of good music. Melodic, beautiful, and entertaining. I cherry-pick 3 quotes from the book, to sum up On Writing for you to have a quick read.

  • Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work.
  • The practice is invaluable (and should feel good, really not like practice at all) and that honesty is indispensable. Skills in the description, dialogue, and character development all boil down to seeing or hearing clearly and then transcribing what you see or hear with equal clarity (and without using a lot of tiresome, unnecessary adverbs).
  • If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Show the story: narration, description, and dialogue

I have jotted down the points to note, for you to keep in mind while writing a story. These are the writing tips from Stephen King and his ways of writing fictions.

  • Ask “what if” to build the narrative
  • The good description usually consists of a few well-chosen details that will stand for everything else
  • The use of simile and other figurative language is one of the chief delights
  • You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have resonance and realism
  • The basic rule of vocabulary is to use the first word that comes to your mind if it is appropriate and colorful
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice
  • Avoid adverbs
  • Leave it for at least 6 weeks before editing
  • Check the spellings, unclear pronouns
  • Look for what you meant and reinforce that meaning

Add metaphors or similes like a pro

I enjoy reading Stephen’s unique metaphors or similes, which he is good at using so as to enrich his writing. Here’re some examples:

  • Writers are carpenters; writing skills are tools
  • As your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction
  • I believe stories are found things, like fossils

How do you like it if I show you a metaphor source which you can access online and get many good references? Dr. Mardy has created one for us, for free!

Happy reading!