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The Secrets to Happiness (Distilled)

I went to this talk by a Buddhist monk about happiness. I’m not a Buddhist, but one thing I like about Buddhism is that it’s more of a philosophy than a religion (from what I’ve seen). There was absolutely no talk of a religious greater power. And no attempt to convert anyone.

The talk was pretty simple, logical, and grounded in reality. It was basically just useful life hacks.

After the talk, I told a classmate, “That all seemed pretty simple.” And he said, “Simple to understand, but really hard to do,” So happiness is like chess in that sense. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Anyways, here’s the quick guide to happiness, according to this class.


Happiness is about a peaceful internal state, i.e. a happy mind.

External rewards (like money, status, etc.) are fine, but they won’t give you lasting happiness. (I know this sounds self-righteous, but it is also self-evident. There’s nothing wrong with being rich, but we all know about rich people who are unhappy and poor people who are happy. 🙃)

To reach an internal peaceful state, act on things you can control and don’t worry about things you can’t control.

If you can do something about it, don’t worry about it.

If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about.

Example: Stuck in traffic on the way to a doctor’s appointment? Call your doc and say you’re running late. If they can work you in later, great. If not, reschedule. Then relax and don’t worry about it. And don’t get mad at your fellow drivers. They’re all in the same situation as you.

Also, a happy mind is a clear, uncluttered mind. This is why mediation is so helpful. It is a quick way to clear out the clutter of your mind and reset to a more relaxed and productive state. It’s like cleaning out a cluttered closet.


And that’s it! Simple and hard, just like life.

💁🏻‍♂️ As a side note, it’s funny that this guide to happiness comes from Buddhists, who say that life is suffering. There is something kind of perfect about the people who embrace suffering to be experts on happiness.

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Can’t Sleep? Try ‘Quiet Wakefulness’ Instead

I just stumbled upon this idea myself and love that it’s being validated here. ☺️

If you can’t sleep, then don’t stress about it. Just lay there and meditate. Or simply lay still and relax without trying to sleep. It’s low-stress and almost as good as actual sleep.

👉 Can’t Sleep? Try ‘Quiet Wakefulness’ Instead

Actually, with meditation it’s better in some ways such as in increase in “relaxation, an uptick in creativity, a decrease in depressive symptoms“.

The way I look at this is, if I wake up at 3:00 am, this is a great chance to mediate (laying-down style) with no time pressure at all. All sleep-stress goes away, and it feels pretty luxurious. It’s best to have some basic meditation practice down first, of course. But nothing fancy is required.

Most of the time I fall back asleep. But if not, I’m still getting meaningful rest and feelin’ good!

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12 Qualities of Effortlessly Cool People

This article breaks down the characteristics of cool peeps. And thankfully it’s not the high school “popular” kind of cool, but more in a sense of being effortless and smooth.

👉 The 12 Coolest Human Traits: Do You Have Them?

I like this list because it’s all pretty easy stuff. It’s not about being crazy funny, talented, or rich. Just be cool. 🤷🏻‍♂️😆

[Cheat sheet: they’re adaptable, they like people, their clothes match their personality, they don’t take criticism too personally, they’re present, they self-regulate (food, alcohol, exercise, work, emotions), they’re curious, if you’re mean to them, they won’t make a fuss, they do interesting things, they won’t judge you, they find fun in small stuff, you wish you could see more of them.]

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4 Questions To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Damn, this is a great article! I love the way it breaks down complex and emotional decisions into an approach that considers “just the facts” while respecting your emotions.

👉 4 Questions that Will Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Each of us is the protagonist in the story of our life. But we’re also the narrator. And the author.

Summary:

  1. What are the facts? (When did I first start feeling upset? Where was I when I noticed by mood changing? Who was I interacting with right before and during my mood shift? What was going on that lead up to the way I felt?)
  2. What’s my emotional dashboard telling me? (Learn to see your emotions like lights on your car’s dashboard. Validate your emotions instead of trying to fix them. Welcome your emotions instead of running away from them. Be curious about your emotions instead of interrogating them.)
  3. What’s my story? (What are the thoughts running through my mind? How well does my story fit the facts? Is my theory based on genuine evidence? Is there another story or theory that fits the facts better?)
  4. What do I really want? (What excites me and lights my fire? What are my guiding principles, my North Star? What are my dreams?)

When you constantly pick fights with your emotions, they tend to fight back.

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Reasons Not to Monitor Your Kids' Screen Time

do not limit screen time for teen

Parents can be so obsessed with worrying about the dangers of screens that they fail to notice the massive, overwhelming, obvious benefits of the internet.

I’m not a fan of limiting my kids’ screen time for the following reasons:

  • Screen time is not inherently “bad”. So much of screen time is deeply creative and engaging. Lumping all screen time together as all the same just doesn’t logically make sense. Winning Monument Valley or posting an original edit on Instagram help the brain practice solving problems and build social skills; they are not the same as passively watching South Park for the 40th time.
  • Limiting screen time is impractical, and it undermines real rules. Do you really want to have a timer on hand and keep track of exactly how ling you kid has been on screens all day? Can you even really do that consistently? It’s pretty likely that your kid goes over time on their screen time regularly and is learning that rules aren’t enforced and aren’t important.
  • It shows a lack of trust. Just like offline life, at the end of the day you need to show and develop trust with your kid. Spying on them and imposing arbitrary rules only undermines those ideas.

Instead of monitoring screen time, I prefer to just make sure my kids meet all their responsibilities (homework, eating dinner with the family, get outside at least a little) and then use as much screen time as they want.

So I was happy to come across this post to remind me that I’m not crazy.

👉 Here’s Why I Don’t Limit Screen Time or Monitor My Child’s Phone

There’s no surer way of telling your children you don’t trust them and don’t respect their personal boundaries than stalking them online.