tisdag 16 september 2014

Happiness and TED

“I only drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad.
Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone.
When I have company I consider it obligatory.
I trifle with it if I'm not in a hurry and drink it when I am, otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty.”

-Lily Bollinger

I write a lot about happiness and flow. And when I don't, I write about quality of life, of food, stretching and working out.

This morning, I took a 20-minute break from realaxing in the sun and looking out the window at the view of central Stockholm ; ). Well, you could say I took a break from my computer screens, but the decision was made after five to ten minutes of sun therapy by the window.

What I took a break for was 20 minutes of listening to a TED podcast about happiness (Simply Happy, August 15, 2014) while I did a couple of mobility exercises (couch, squat, Morpheus shoulders, glutes, hamstrings).

BTW, just like walking, stretching is a perfect backdrop to absorbing new information; it is low intensity and uncomplicated while still priming the brain for learning and curiosity and stifling boredom. When moderately physically active, in particular when moving/walking outside in nature, the brain activates its learning. A lot of people have written about this so I won't at this point. Suffice to say, if you want to increase your focus and learning efficiency when taking in auditory inmformation, walk in nature at a moderate pace.

"There is no secret to happiness, just like there is no secret to dieting" (says a researcher early in the show)

However, as with dieting, there are several small not-so-secret tips and tricks (fasting for example). Here is a site (from the TED show) that does research on happiness, by prompting smart phone users a couple of times a day, to record their state of mind, current activity, if they have to do what they are doing, if they'd rather do something else etc. Try it!

One of the happiness findings is that "mind wandering" is detrimental to happiness and the antithesis to flow. The reason for this is that when the mind wanders, it tends to wander to trouble and problems, and that makes you unhappy. The solution is to pay attention to what you are doing, really, actively listen to what you are listening to, or try to pick apart and enjoy the tastes in your mouth from what you are chewing on etc.

You know the sunscreen song? Among a hundred quite good pieces of advice, the lyricist emphasizes just one: Wear Sunscreen. When it comes to happiness, Nobel Prize winners, researchers, bloggers and I alike recommend just one thing: walk. Whenever you are bogged down by life, or just your daily tasks, or you have come to a standstill in your project, or face a difficult choice, or you simply are bored. Really, almost no matter what is ailing you (or even if you already are content and happy), just go for a walk. Lily Bollinger, above, probably advocates something more liquid and bubbly.

Anyway, I chose not to finish the whole TED show right now, keeping the rest for later, but I heard enough to be able to recommend Simply Happy to anybody interested in what science is saying right now about how to become or stay happy. And remember to take a long (60 minute) walk at a moderate pace while listening. You should do the wandering, not your mind. At the end of this post, I have summarized the TED radio hour episode about happiness.

I always feel envigorated, alive and a little smarter after a pod walk with TED, Nature, Radiolab, Science talk or one of the Swedish podcasts about language or science I listen to regularly. As a bonus I get a little exercise (since I never do any cardio) and sunshine (vitamin-D).

Then, I bring out the champagne. Often.

4 kommentarer:

  1. I´ve listened to the first half and think it´s really interesting. The thing he says about humans might be installed to not really know our self really got to me. And off course the theme about not think too much.

    Nice blog and you've got yourself a new follower, this blog came in nicely in time for me


    1. Thank you. Good to hear. BTW, the second half of the podcast is just as good or even better.

    2. I'm saving it for a roadtrip tomorrow, any podcast recommendations since I have a hard time finding something interesting?

    3. Difficult with out knowing what you like. I like everything on NPR/TED radio hour. There are hundreds of hours in the archive. Even if I think beforehand that the topic is boring, the show is often interesting nevertheless. Most shows are good both on paper and in practice. Also, try 60 seconds of science. See if you can take 25 in a row... :)