Tag Archives: the happiness project

Thomas Merton wrote, “The things that we love tell us what we are.”

What do you love? What do your loves tell you about yourself?

Go Off the Path

Leave your rut behind, and explore new streets and neighborhoods — or walk or bike through an area where you’re usually riding in a car. You’ll notice many new things. It’s energizing to explore new places — even if they’re right near home. 

Paradoxes of Happiness

  • Lose yourself to find yourself.
  • Spend out* to become rich. 
  • Being very accessible sometimes makes it hard to connect with people. 

*Stop hoarding; trust in abundance! 

3 Tips for Giving Good Praise

Most of us love praise — getting that gold star on the top of our homework. It takes skill to give someone praise in a meaningful way. 

  • Be specific. “Great job” is less satisfying than an enumeration of what, exactly, was done well. 
  • Remember the negativity bias. The “negativity bias” is a well-recognized psychological phenomenon: people react to the bad more strongly than to the comparable good. So if you want to praise someone, remember that one critical comment will wipe out several positive comments, and will be far more memorable. 
  • Praise the everyday. When people do something unusual, it’s easy to remember to give praise. But what about the things they do well every day? It never hurts to point out how much you appreciate the small tasks that someone unfailingly performs. 

Loophole-Spotting

We often use loopholes to justify breaking our good habits. A popular loophole is the One-Coin Loophole. An ancient teach story asks, “Can one coin make a man rich?” You’d say no. But if you add one coin, then another, then another … a man becomes rich. In the same way, with habits, any one “coin” is insignificant, true, but we only develop good habits one “coin” at a time. 

  • I haven’t worked on that project for such a long time, there’s no point in working on it this morning. 
  • One beer won’t make a difference.
  • What difference does it make if I spend this afternoon at the library or at home on my couch? 
  • Why wear a helmet today? What are the chances that I’m in an accident today? 

Sound familiar?

Invest in Good Tools

A well-designed workspace and well-made instruments make work a joy — whether at the office of at home. What steps can you take to make your workspaces more comfortable and efficient? What tools might you invest in, to work more easily and with more satisfaction?

Keep an empty shelf; keep a junk drawer.

Every house needs an empty shelf, and every house needs a junk drawer. It’s good to have a bit of pure order — and also a bit of chaos someplace, with unexpected treasures.

Appreciate Traditions

Cultivate family traditions. They make occasions feel special and exciting, mark the passage of time in a happy way, and provide a sense of anticipation, security, and continuity. There’s no need to wait for traditions to emerge spontaneously. A “new tradition” may be an oxymoron, but that shouldn’t prevent you from inventing a tradition that you wish you had. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

What do you lie about? We should pay special attention to anything we try to hide

Our eating habits, our sleeping habits, our exercise habits, our screen-watching habits … when we lie about something, it suggests that our actions don’t reflect our values. 

Secrets of Adulthood

  • Things often get harder before they get easer. 
  • What we assume will be temporary often becomes permanent; what we assume is permanent often proves temporary. 
  • It’s easier to keep up than to catch up.