Archive | May, 2007

six tips for happiness

17 May

From this NPR article, here are six tips for being happy, from Tal Ben-Shahar, the Harvard professor of positive psychology:

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions — such as fear, sadness, or anxiety — as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do — or don’t do — with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

It’s crazy that it can be so simple.

my favorite podcasts

16 May

Here’s a list of all the podcasts I subscribe to:

  • Radio Oh La La: The only music podcast I subscribe to, this exceptional one is dedicated to French pop music from the 50s and 60s. High camp, classics and fun.
  • The Sound of Young America. Just the tongue in cheek description of it being a “Public Radio Show About Things That Are Awesome” and the fact that the host and producer Jesse Thorn calls himself “America’s radio sweetheart” delight me. The show features intelligent interviews with authors, film makers, comedians, artists and more. True to its jingle, this is “maximum fun!”
  • Boing boing boing. A very seldom podcast from the makers of boingboing.
  • The Onion Radio News. You can get the Onion in pod form!
  • Yoga Today. This video podcast is the only reason I’ve kept up with my yoga regularly, and I highly recommend it for those who need direction in yoga and don’t have time or motivation to go out of the house to do it. They do a different hour session of yoga everyday, and it’s great to be able to pause to look at certain poses in detail. You can fast forward through the ads at the beginning.
  • With this steady diet, I have enough entertainment to last a lifetime!

vonnegut’s eight short story rules

16 May

Wikipedia lists Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing a short story:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

and notes that “Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that the greatest American short story writer, Flannery O’Connor, broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that.”

photos uploaded around the world

16 May

Well, since I’m off on a major flickr kick today, I might as well let it keep rolling. I just saw that there is a site called which shows all the recent flickr photos that also have geographical information. It places them on a map, and flips through them as they’re added all over the world. What an addictive way to get a visual snapshot of what’s going on all over, right now. It makes the world feel smaller and yet still very diverse.

mapping memories to places

16 May

San Francisco map
I love the feature in flickr where you can map all your photos to different places on a map. Here’s my personal flickr map of San Francisco memories. It’s really handy to be able to situate different images to associate memories with locations when you look back at them later.