Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekend Reading: The Specific Advice Edition

I write a lot about being happy and productive, blah blah blah. But how do you actually achieve those things? I certainly don't have the secret to all that- if I did, I'd write a bestseller, not a blog post. But I have some links with some specific advice!

First up, do you know how you can sit and try for hours to solve a problem or come up with a new idea and get nowhere, and then you give up and go do something else and let your mind wander and BOOM! there's the solution? Well, this has now been shown to be the best way to come up with creative ideas. My favorite way to let my mind wander is to go out for a walk- good ideas and exercise! You can't beat that.

OK, so now you know how to come up with creative ideas. But what about the more metaphysical realm? How do you figure out what makes you happy and what matters to you in life? @Mom-101's twitter feed led me to this post that advocates writing lists to explore those questions. Lists! Of course I love it.

Also- hang out with the nerds, not the hipsters. Seriously, this is great advice. I am deeply puzzled as to why grown people want to reconstruct the worst part of high school in their adult lives by setting up hierarchies of coolness. Nerds are waaaaay more fun, because they'll tell you why something is cool, not sneer at you for not knowing already.

Got any other good links with advice about life, the universe, and everything? Leave them in the comments. But... it is my 40th birthday on Monday and I've got some plans to celebrate this weekend. So I might not be online much. See you next week!


  1. Anonymous2:04 AM

    Happy upcoming birthday!

  2. happy birthday! Welcome to the dark side of 40. Glad to have some more company.

    Honestly I know this sounds trite (and I fully acknowledge my privileges of birth, intellect, location, color etc), but after many many many years of therapy I finally realized that happiness is just a freaking perspective like anything else.

    You can walk around thinking that people are harshing on you, comparing yourself to others, dwelling on the past etc, or you can do some hard work (psychologically, physically, mentally, whatever) and change your outlook, your situation, your job. It isn't easy and it is seldom fun, but it beats being miserable.

    I'm a big fan of
    1. the pro-con list
    2. writing letters you never send
    3. self-mantras to replace negative thoughts
    4. Any exercise so absorbing to that allows you to stop thinking for an hour
    5. hiding in a book
    6. making plans of small steps to get to big goals
    7. small indulgences that make you feel great if only temporarily

    1. I basically agree with you. But I get in trouble whenever I suggest people can make themselves happier... I think I haven't figured out how to write well about my thoughts on happiness. I've got a post lined up in which I'll try again. But who know when I'll get to it. I haven't been getting a lot of time to write.

    2. Anonymous8:55 AM

      It's not like there isn't a strong research base on the psychology of happiness. (Dan Gilbert, Barry Schwartz, Carol Dweck etc.) But you can't force people who want to be miserable not to be miserable. The lightbulb has to *want* to change.

    3. Amen, sisters!!

      Happy Birthday, Cloud!

  3. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Happy Birthday! 40 was a rough year for me in a number of ways, but in general my 40s have been better than my 30s, which were decidedly better than my 20s. So enjoy!

    I totally agree with you on nerds v. hipsters, but your comments made me realize that I know someone who belongs to a particularly irritating subset: the Hipster Nerd. This is someone who is always a bigger and better fan than you. You like that TV show, and she didn't watch it when you recommended it? Well, now she's making costumes inspired by its characters. You like a series of books? She's read them more times and memorized more of the details.

    Super annoying.

  4. paola3:49 AM

    Welcome to the club!
    Have a lovely birthday.

  5. Happy early birthday! I also agree that happiness can be a choice for most people. I'm getting better at this as I get older, but it does take time and effort.

  6. I find more clarity and vitality of ideas when I have someone to talk to about them, face to face. I am forced to express myself with more nuance when I'm not just talking to myself, and of course to answer smart questions. I had a conversation like this last week that helped talk me off a ledge (an idea ledge). I don't think list-making would help me.

    Happy birthday!

  7. The milliner8:03 PM

    Happy Birthday Cloud! The 40's are where it's at ;).

  8. Zenmo5:02 AM

    Happy birthday! Hope you had a great day

  9. mom2boy5:09 AM

    Happy Birthday!!

  10. Oooh, I missed it! Happy birthday Cloud!!

  11. Happy 40th!
    Happiness is a combination of state of mind and surrounding yourself with other fairly positive people. When my husband is depressed, it definitely clouds over my world. When he's doing well, I do much better. There's only so much uphill smiling I can manage. But overall, Lincoln had it right.


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