The science of happiness

choose-happyMarch 30, 2105 – If you’re a regular on Facebook or any social media platform, perhaps you’ve come across, the website that claims “worrying is a waste of your intelligence”, and that you can triumph over negative thoughts, stress and anxiety, and find happiness by partaking in the activities and games on their website.

That’s a big promise, and although I’m a positive person by nature, I’m also skeptical that a few minutes a day playing games online can profoundly change the way I view the world.

Defining happiness, or the amount a person should experience isn’t easy, and that’s where I think most people (at least Americans) struggle. If you’re not walking around feeling euphoric with a crazy smile on your face every second, you can’t be happy right? Sure, that’s absurd, but some people believe exactly that when it comes to happiness.

Psychologist Ronald Siegel developed a one-minute survey that can be used to measure your happiness level. Read the five statements below, decide how you feel about them based on the scale, and add up the points.

1—Strongly disagree
3—Slightly disagree
4—Neither agree nor disagree
5—Slightly agree
7—Strongly agree

• In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
• The conditions of my life are excellent.
• I am satisfied with my life.
• So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
• If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

31-35 Extremely satisfied
26-30 Satisfied
21-25 Slightly satisfied
20 Neutral
15-19 Slightly dissatisfied
10-14 Dissatisfied
5-9 Extremely dissatisfied

I scored a 26, which puts me in the satisfied category, but I suppose my results could vary depending on my mood when I take the survey. That makes me question the accuracy of the survey, and wonder how much of my happiness is under my control.

According to the website, Science Of Us, 40% of our ability to be happy comes from ourselves, while 50% comes from genetics, and 10% from our circumstances. That means if you’re negative because of your genes, you’re pretty much screwed.

Still, the more I read about the psychology of, the more I became intrigued., and I gave a lot of thought to their conception of living in the moment. I’d loved to accomplish that state, even though I’ve failed in the past after reading Ekhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”. Although I believed and agree with most of what Tolle wrote, I couldn’t stay in the now. Something makes me worry about tomorrow, or dwell on what happened yesterday. Taking a chance with means I get another shot at training myself to live in the moment. I know I miss too much of my actual life because of it.

With a push of a button, I began my journey with happify.

First up, a questionnaire that made me feel like I was signing up for or a dating site. It’s that in-depth. It asked a lot of personal questions, and promised it would not share the information with anyone. Still, there weren’t any questions too personal that I skipped over, and I felt the questions were appropriate considering the site promised a set of activities to boost my happiness that were specific to me.

My results: the data shows I’m not that bad off, and that I can achieve real changes in my emotional well-being if I stick with the program for two months. That means taking a few minutes to complete the exercises three to four times a week. That’s not too much of a commitment, so I plan on diving in. After all, it was the Dalai Lama who said, “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your actions.”

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. ☺

The downside of being linked in

16d5bbfMarch 15, 2015 – Dear LinkedIn:

I realize that as a professional networking tool whose purpose is to help people like me locate and establish business contacts, you thrive on recommending people to add to my social network.

Normally, I appreciate your recommendations, and have taken advantage of some of your suggestions. However, lately, I have found you a bit insensitive. The last few times I signed on, your suggestions consisted of people who I’ve interviewed with over the past several years and didn’t hire me. So, you’re recommending people who have rejected me. Nice.

At first I was puzzled by how you connected us, the same way a waitress may be puzzled by a customer who calls her by name, only to realize that she is wearing a name tag. In my case, the recipient of my resume most likely searched for me on your network when they wanted to learn more about me. I likely did the same when they called me to schedule an interview. Now, we are forever linked in cyberspace thanks to your algorithmic methods, even though we will have no need to contact each other again.

Perhaps your algorithm should consider that if I looked up a profile two years ago and didn’t link with them then, I’m not interested.


Jane McMaster

Spring is coming

March 9, 2015 — Temperatures are on the rise, and the great snow meltdown has begun.

Need more proof that spring is only two weeks away? Check out some of the blooms from the Philadelphia Flower Show, along with a butterfly that came to visit: