Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bound Decisions Lead to Happiness, Right?

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. 

Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquility of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.” - Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

I listened to this interesting TED talk from Dan Gilbert, the author of Stumbling on Happiness, this book I read a while back. When I read the book, I wasn't on a quest to find happiness (might I remind my readers, searching for happiness is almost counterproductive). At the time, reading this book was an assignment. As such, I skimmed through the pages, and didn't have any major takeaways, because I wasn't engaged. Then I 'stumbled' (pun intended) on this TED talk.

The quote above is heavy, at best. I still have a hard time understanding everything. However, I like how Dan Gilbert explains in his theory of happiness that YES, there are some ideas that are better than others when it comes to the "happiness" outcome. In addition, because there are some decisions that are better than others, I should have preferences on how to make decisions that in turn influence happier outcomes. 

Maybe you have heard the adage that despite our circumstances we can be happy. What I understood from the talk is that my personal commitment to decisions makes me a direct "influencer" of my personal happiness and outcome. Gilbert points out that decisions that are bound bring about happier outcomes by nature. 

For example, my personal ambition or anything else I pursue that lacks boundaries could mean that I will do whatever want/need in order to get to the next level. In other words, if I have personal drive and ambition without personal rules, I am more likely to hurt others and even myself. Without a personal commitment to common sense or moral judgement, I could still get what I want, but my happiness factor would be lower than if I had certain personal rules in place.

What do you think? Do you think that you are prone to be more happy when you have personal rules in place?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Being On Time: Important to Happiness

I was reading one of my favorite blogs The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin who wrote a post about how to change the habit of chronically being late. I agreed with the steps she gave readers to help them change the habit.

I ended up posting a comment about how I felt about the importance and value of time, specifically if I am going to meet up with someone.

Here is what I shared:

"I am chronically way ahead of schedule. I grew up in a household that always arrived to things at least 10 minutes ahead of schedule. There were always some advantages to our 'promptness'. For example, we always got the pick of the good seats at movie theaters, we always avoided the rush at the restaurants, we always made our flights. 

The disadvantage is how others view their promptness. When I was first living on my own, and would show up to everything early, I would end up waiting and then (because I live in an area where people are chronically late) would end up waiting even double the time because they would be late. This was very frustrating to me, and I ended up creating a story in my mind that someone did not value my time enough to show up when they said they would. I have since struggled with the concept of the value of someone's time. 

The way I dealt with this at first was the three strike rule - if someone didn't show up on time, or around the time of our appointment, and they did it three times, I wouldn't schedule anymore appointments with that person. I ended up losing a lot of valuable relationships because of this rule. I have learned that there are people who do not value the importance of 'being on time' as a priority the way I do. Being on time for me means, spending more time with someone I care about. But maybe being on time for them means doing everything in their power to get there, even if it means being 10 minutes late, and still having an enjoyable time. 

I have since remedied my three strike out rule and have come to learn that A. I still like being on time - it makes me happy to know the lay of the land, but have had to learn to just be, instead of getting frustrated, B. Adjusting my expectation that just because someone else is late, doesn't mean that meaningful things can't happen, or that they care less for/about me, and C. Understanding that there will be things that get in the way of someone not being able to be on time...and being considerate of how they prepare to make appointments."

Like I said in the post, I have been fighting this almost my entire adult life. I recall a specific period of time where the last thoughts mentioned above dawned on me. My friend asked me to meet at her house at 10:00 p.m. so we could go out on the town. I arrived 5 minutes early, only to wait an additional 45 minutes for her to get ready. Before I left my home, I had a million things I needed to get done. But, I put them on hold because I needed to make my appointment. That was more important to me than running some last minute errands. You can imagine my consternation when I arrived only to realize I could have finished my errands instead of being prompt. Needless to say, I tried to put the anger behind me and have a good time, but found I had a chip on my shoulder from that evening's events.

When my friend asked me to do something else, I remember being clear about the time table, "Your time, or my time." I said it as a joke at first, but the conversation took a more serious turn as she responded defensively. She knew she had issues being on time, and others around me know that about her. Being a new friend of her, I had to learn it the hard way. At the end of this experience, we didn't speak with one another for a while. I realized I valued her too much as a friend to lose her, so I had to change my ways, and accept that I shouldn't be so pointed when trying to address time management issues. I eased up and realized that she would be late to every event we planned, and ended up taking a book so I would have something to do while I waited.

In addition to what I said in the post on Gretchen's page, I remember having a conversation with a friend who caught me in my moment of 'waiting and getting angry' because my friend was late, asked me why I was so frustrated. After explaining my situation and my thoughts around being prompt, he told me that I should just start showing up around the time that my chronically late friend would so I wouldn't be so frustrated. He said semi-jokingly that I was the one at fault because I could have scheduled in all this other time to do something else instead of wasting my time waiting, and maybe I should consider changing my behavior.

You know, I find great comfort knowing that other bloggers/comments/posts said something similar to mine. I appreciated all their comments, even after I posted something that was quite similar to what others were also thinking...oops.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Things on My Mind this Week

  1. Double-roll toilet paper seems to go a lot quicker than regular-roll toilet paper
  2. I have a love/hate relationship with having my heat on at night and my a/c on during the day
  3. My coughs sound like sneezes - when I am cold, I cough. I was cold today and coughed a little. My coworker sent me a quick IM saying "bless you"
  4. I am tired of being responsible - part of the lay off required that I receive pages and pages of paperwork. Part of my new employment also required pages and pages of paperwork. I am tired of reading and reading and reading and sometimes trying to read between the lines. Here are some of the things that I have been responsible to read and understand for the past two weeks.
    • Filing taxes jointly for the first time - requires more and more time since my sweetheart was a contractor
    • COBRA and associated fees - Holy expensive!
    • 401k transactions - on the phone with representatives to help me with future financial planning now that I don't have a retirement plan anymore, talking with Dave Ramsey's people
    • Release documentation - it was still sad to send those in, even though I got a great is still a void that I am hoping to fill with this new opportunity
    • Last day of medical insurance until my new one starts
    • New insurance for my new job
    • New medication that I need to know about, how much is covered, etc.
    • Obamacare, finding out if I can be covered for 1 month with any insurance, (they only provide for a year, which is great for someone needing yearly coverage)
    • Dental - what's covered what's not - I still have wisdom teeth. YIKES!
    • Learning about new tools for my job, documentation, documentation, documentation!
    • Helping sweetheart learn about communicable diseases - studied e-coli today. Bacteria. Fecal-oral. Nasty symptoms. Only last 5-10 weeks. Only thing a patient can do is wait it out, feel terrible in the process, drink fluids, and eat a healthy diet (BRATY) and stuff good on digestive system.
    • Trying to find the best credit cards for my new travel schedule with work - I will get to travel, yay!!
    • Reading the ins and outs of policies/procedures associated with my new job, and helping develop some too
    • Keeping up with bills and changes to plans - I want to switch internet providers, but lack the strength to research one. I also want to combine phone plans with my sweetheart, but it looks like it might be more expensive, and I am too exhausted to really find out. Every At&T person has something different to say, and something different to offer. So, I'm done looking. 400 hours of phone to land is just fine, whatever.
    • Understanding new procedures at our apartment - no peeing dogs in non peeing areas
    That is a lot of documentation. That is a lot of responsibility. I think I want to lay in bed, cover my head, and watch movies under my covers for the rest of my life! and we don't even have kids yet...being an adult bites.
  5. My favorite post on Facebook this week was, "Free horse manure. You haul and load. Just let me know when you want to come by so I can move my horses." I love living in Rexburg!
  6. Finding out that Rexburg kids get a week or so break from school during the potato harvest
  7. Additionally finding out that all our potatoes in the store are not from Idaho - they are all shipped....bummer. But also finding out that during potato harvest, I can go get all the leftovers in the field. HOLLER! Oh, and did you know that if you go to Five Guys, they will have a sign that says where their potatoes/fries are from? Look for Rexburg - we are famous!
  8. Learning about how to take care of in house basil and rosemary - they require 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Still not sure by us putting them by the window is helping. Our basil seems droopy. He might need to be pinched.