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!

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!

Funny Memoir

happiness

How to be a woman?

As a woman myself, I find it very easy to fear of everything — wrinkles, uncontrollable emotions, the dark, insects, gravity, loneliness, outfits that make you look fat, irritating menstruation, not getting married, not having kids, and the list goes on. I can choose to be anxious about coping with life as a woman or choose to laugh about all of them (too many materials to make fun of).

I love Caitlin Moran‘s sense of humour and her unique perspectives on being a woman. She is a strident feminist who supports women to be herself. She shares her life from a teenage girl to a mid-thirties lady in a brutally honest and comedian way.

Her exaggerating metaphors and imaginary scenes are hilarious and her opinions on things are bold (She loves bolding her main points too!). Her book is full of references from pop culture, celebrities, bands, fashion, sex, and more. It’s totally FUNNY AND JUICY.

I don’t know how they would react to my £40 handbag. They might leap on to their chairs screaming and trying to hit my cheap handbag with a broom, as if it were vermin.

It is a good read for people who are annoyed by or being a woman or who want to understand women more and have a good laugh. The book is full of insights and amusing stories.

Happy reading!

 

give and take

happiness

Are you a taker, matcher or giver?

Yes, I am a matcher most of the time, unfortunately, and sometimes a taker or a giver. I feel the need to get evolved to be a giver after reading the book Give and Take by Adam Grant as giving wisely makes life happier. Yes, it takes actions and time to be a generous giver so it’s better that we really enjoy the process of giving. I’m trying to get there although I’m still far from the end of evolution.

How to be a cheerful giver?

Givers are generous folks who take other’s interests above theirs. Not many people can do that all the time I guess. I hope you’re one of the cheerful givers and I hope I can be one soon. Adam Grant advocates giving as he loves to see more successful givers getting to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them.

“When you meet people, regardless of who they are, you should be asking yourself, ‘How can I help the other person?’”

Perspective-taking

I must admit that my ability to imagine other people’s perspectives is very weak as I’m an introvert and I don’t practice perspective-taking a lot in real life. I always get stuck in my own perspective so I find myself not so helpful to others. Once upon a time, my boyfriend at the time asked me to help him to do his individual essay but I just promised him to help with the proofreading. He then asked another friend to finish it for him near the deadline. Since then, he broke up with me. This relationship let me realize that he is a matcher and I am not a giver. I failed to put his interest over mine and he failed to prioritize our relationship over his study. What if both of us are otherish givers considering our partner’s thoughts and interests to find ways that satisfy others without sacrificing our own interests?

Seeking advice

Adam suggests us to ask for advice, which is a form of powerless communication showing our vulnerability. In his opinion, advice-seeking has 4 benefits: learning, perspective taking, commitment, and flattery. For example, when I ask my senior how to get a pay rise, he will give suggestions for my situation (engage in perspective-taking) and help me if he is a giver (commitment). I will take new information (learning) from him and give appreciation (flattery) to him. This whole process of seeking advice is more like prompting the adviser to be a giver. It literally gives the adviser a chance to give.

The 100-hour rule of volunteering

In the book, Adam also mentions the 100-hour rule of volunteering — the optimal hour to give without burning out. It’s just two hours a week if we break down 100 hours a year. Research shows that happiness increased when people performed all five giving acts or volunteer work in a single day rather than doing one a day. And if you are burning out, you can recharge your energy by shifting your giving to a new domain where your contributions showing visible impacts.

Seeing everyone as talented

Adam Grant believes generous givers simply start by seeing everyone as talented and try to bring out the best in them. They don’t excel only at recognizing and developing talent; they’re also surprisingly good at moving on when their bets don’t work out.

There’re so many great stories about takers and givers in Adam’s book worth reading. Hope you will be willing to give more no matter big or small after reading this. If we measure success in what it has done for the people around us, being helpful to others with a sense of free choice is successful.

Happy reading!

 

 

LOL this is funny

happiness

What makes you laugh today?

I have no idea what my facial expression looks like when I’m not looking at the mirror, until more than 2 people said to me,” You looks so serious”. What? I have been wearing a serious look all day, all months, or maybe all years? I thought I have a happy smiling face all the time. Are there fights between emotions in my brain like the movie Inside Out?

The idea that I was not LOL all the time makes me panic. Then I watch comedies, sitcoms, and funny books. I also put on a pair of funny glasses and see things from a different perspective. It turns out people laugh at my stupid face.

Life is absurd. It’s better not to take it seriously. I want you to have a good laugh as that will make me laugh too. How? Yea, how exactly? I don’t quite know, to be honest. But,  here I’ve got some funny stuff, for you to judge if they are funny enough to make you laugh.

Funny graphic memoir

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Have you ever read any weird comics from Allie Brosh‘s funny blog? I gave the book a try after Bill Gate‘s recommendation. I found it enjoyable to read and I couldn’t help laughing at her whimsical drawings and writing. Allie illustrated the anecdotes about her childhood, her dogs, her identity, her depression and her daily life in a hilarious and exaggerated way with her unique sense of humor. I love it! Life is not that boring if you see it in Allie’s way.

The Simpsons jokes

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What’s your favorite Simpsons joke? The Simpsons may seem stupid, yet I love the smart jokes that make people can’t help laughing at. I tried to hack the joke writing secrets. Yes, I tried a bit, not hard. After listening to the audiobook of Springfield Confidential, I have a bit more ideas about how the Simpsons writers work: they use simple language to talk about the moment of shit and put a surprise at the end. 

The Simpsons

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The British sense of humor 

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The British sense of humor is more sarcastic and pessimistic. James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes is a good example, telling his autobiographical stories in a comedian way. He’s hilarious. You can definitely feel that when he speaks, not to mention his funny stand-up shows.

Happy reading & laughing!