Archive for January, 2011

Where Happiness Lies

This week’s Positive Psych Challenge for class involved two activities that were opposite in nature:

1. Do something philanthropic – Do something nice for someone else.

2. Do one thing that is purely hedonistic – Participate in an activity that will make you feel good.

I think this week’s challenge was the hardest yet; it required a lot of thinking and also keeping an eye open for opportunities to engage in either 1. or 2. It also required me to define what I personally took each challenge to mean.

I began to think of what doing something for others entailed. This led me to ponder altruism; doing something completely for someone else with absolutely no benefit to yourself. Many times we might do something for someone else, but doing so may give us something in return such as recognition or material or monetary gain. But that’s not altruism. Altruism is setting aside your own needs and helping someone else. This week, I think I was able to accomplish this. A friend was requiring my assistance, however I felt so drained that I was in no position to even want to help her. I could have easily confessed that I was so tired, very hungry, and had a load of work to do before the end of the day, but I didn’t. I knew that she would have understood had I told her, but I also knew that she needed help. So I dropped the pursuit of my own interests in exchange for hers.

I also began to think of something that I could do to accomplish 2 that would make myself feel good. We seem do things for ourselves everyday: choosing the foods that we like, fun ways to spend our time, who we’d like to spend our time with, or the places we’d like to go. Therefore, I believe that 1. is the hardest to do because you must set aside your wants for those of others. I think doing things that make yourself feel good is important and necessary to well being, however, doing those things at the expense of others is where the danger lies.

Happiness lies in the midst of both doing things for yourself and doing things for others. Both are necessary. If you are only pursuing your own interests, you miss out on the joy that comes from doing things for others. Nevertheless, at the same time, if you are always self-sacrificing, you will drain yourself out.

What do you think is easiest to do? Doing something completely for others, or completely for yourself?


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3 Good Things

This week, for our class’ Positive Psych Challenge,  we were instructed to

1. Write down 3 good things that happened that day

2. Record why it happened

3. Repeat each day for one whole week

Doing your own 3-Good-Things-A-Day is quite enjoyable, especially because you have a knowledge of all the memories attached to your entries and your own personal reasons as to why they were good. Here are my good things and their causes (Friday and Saturday were my favourite days with Saturday being the most random):

1. Warm tea in the morning – took extra time in the morning to make tea and use my new travel mug. I’ve never taken anything besides water to school before
2. Wings Night with friends – took a break from school work
3. Ate a Blueberry Bagel with Strawberry Cream Cheese – a new experience for me. SO GOOD. Decided to buy some food because I was staying on campus to work on my thesis

1. Ran in to friends on the bus to AND from school – happened to catch the same bus
2. Tobogganing – decided to join some friends who were going. And the weather was perfect!
3. Very productive time working on my thesis – only had a one hour slot of time to work on it and knew that there was a lot to get done

1. Walked to campus – The bus was late so decided to get some exercise instead of waiting for it
2. Productive time working on thesis – reached a state of flow
3. Preparing supper – set aside an hour to cook an actual meal

1. DQ Ice Cream Cake – it was a friend’s birthday. I LOVE Dairy Queen.
2. Good Group Discussion at YA (Young Adults) – people had great input
3. Dinner out with friends – decided to keep spending time with friends instead of going straight home

1. Family visit – parents came up to return my brother’s newt. Got to visit with both parents and one of my brothers and his girlfriend.
2. Browsing a bookstore with Dad – decided to join him because he always has good recommendations and I know that every time I go with him I’m inspired to read more
3. Free Groceries – my mom brought me some much needed food items. Thanks Mom!

1. Photographing baby octopuses – the octopuses were part of my roommate’s class assignment. After using them, we decided to let them have a photoshoot. View the randomness here.
2. Dancing with roommate – my other roommate and I were getting sleepy in the afternoon. I put on upbeat music. We rocked out… in the kitchen.
3. Hot tub hangout with friends – finished all my readings beforehand and was able to relax. I also managed to make a snow angel while in my bathing suit. It was cold, but I felt accomplished.

1. Good message at church – Pastor preached on faith.
2. Tried a Snuggie – I was cold and at my brother’s place and his girlfriend offered to let me try her Snuggie!
3. Warm soup after a long day at work – My housemate had just finished making some Butternut Squash Soup as I was coming home late that night from work. Delish.

Overarching themes? Food, friends, and schoolwork.

Some days I had a hard time choosing my top three because there were so many good things that happened that day. However, I have to admit that on other days it was difficult to think of even 3 good things (especially at the beginning of the week where my days were mostly filled with schoolwork). However, during these times I had to make myself more aware of what I was enjoying. It’s important to go about your day thinking of its highlights and realizing what it is that you enjoy. That way, you can make of point of doing more of it!

Think it would be hard to remember to think of 3 Good Things at the end of each day? No worries, this website can help you.

What are 3 Good Things that you experienced today?

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

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Octopus Battle

I played with mini octopuses.

My housemate needed them for a really neat school project. After she was done with them, we decided to have a photoshoot with these little guys.

The aftermath of one octopus being hurled into the air by another.


BONUS: Tentacles close-up

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When was the last time that you savoured something? Gave it your full one hundred percent attention?

Last week’s challenge for Positive Psych [to learn more about this class and the fun/happy things that we’ve been doing click here!] was to choose three things that week to savour.

Throughout the week, while deciding what I would choose, I got to thinking about how often we go through life so quickly without fully paying attention and enjoying all the little things.

When was the last time that we slowed down to taste every flavour of our burger? Or listened to every word of a song and enjoyed every instrument instead of having music merely in the background? Or took in the warmth of the sun on our skin, despite the cold weather? Or listened to every word said by a friend instead of mentally rehearsing our reply? Or paid attention to the coziness of our bed?

Those are the things that I changed. I slowed down when I ate. I paid attention to lyrics. I took in every word said  by a friend. These are little things, but they are so easily skipped over in life.

This concept of savouring can definitely be applied to when we take time out of our day to be with God. How often are we distracted by our surroundings or by the sound of our own thoughts. Or thinking of everything that we will be doing after we finish reading our quota of the Bible for that day? But, how often do we actually savour God and His presence?

THE CHALLENGE: Pick three things that you will savour today, this week, or even this month. Let me know how it goes. And don’t say you didn’t enjoy it! You will.

Today, January 17th, marks the day that has been statistically proven to be the worst day of the year (based on suicide rates, weather, amount of credit card bills in the aftermath of Christmas, etc.) Don’t have a bad day. Go savour something!

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Positive Psychology Challenges

This semester, my very last semester (!), I am taking a seminar course called Positive Psychology. When we tend to think about psychology, we seem to view it as a discipline that looks at the world in terms of pathology. How can we diagnose people? What is wrong with this person? What is wrong with this world? We ask those type of questions.

However, positive psychology, sometimes referred to as “happy psychology”, looks to how positive emotions and experience can be increased in individuals. Basically, it is the study of what goes right in life.

Each class, my professor gives us certain challenges and activities to be done during the week. Our major project is to keep a journal/portfolio of all of these activities. And what better way than to document them here!

Thought I’d share ’em and hopefully encourage others to start thinking about their day, their surroundings, life, in a more positive way.

As the weeks go by, I’ll be adding more to the list below. So click away!

Week 2 – Savouring

Week 3 – 3 Good Things

Week 4 – Philanthropy and Hedonism

Week 5 – Letter of Gratitude

Week 6 – Character Strengths

Week 7 – Maximizers and Satisficers

Week 9 – Relationship Advice

Week 11 – Goal Setting

Check out positive psychology at work on the internet:

1000 Awesome Things

Happy Rambles

Gives Me Hope

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Remain Strangers

I live in a basement and have no mercy for bugs that cross the boundary between the outdoors and my home. They never have a chance.

But today was different. I met him.

Do not stare at a bug for too long. You will develop familiarity and will never be able to take its life. Squoosh them while you are still strangers. I made that mistake today.

I found him beneath my computer chair. I looked into his eyes, and he into mine. I saw his waving antennae and his beady little black eyes. He begged to be friends. I accepted. We had a photo shoot. Of one picture.

If you look closely [click on the image to take a closer look at his cuteness] you can see a little piece of fluff behind him. I tried to free him from it, however my attempts resulted in him being dragged backwards while it still remained attached.

Currently, he is walking the length of my room enjoying being alive while still trailing the mini dust bunny. What a cutie.

I shall not name him. That’s insane.

In addition: As a child growing up I thought that these bugs which I would find under rocks and in basements were named “Potato Bugs”. Do NOT Google “Potato Bug”. I did. It is not the cute bug that you have found in your room. It is something that will make you exclaim “Naahh” when you realize that Google decided to place images in your search.

Disclaimer: This was not a serious post. The bug is gone. However has not yet met its death.

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