Tag Archives: happiness

Positively Stinking Thinking

By Jim Selman | Bio

Julia Baird has a nice piece in the September 25th issue of Newsweek called “Positively Downbeat”. She’s commenting on Americans’ obsession with being happy and the billions we spend to learn “the secret”. It’s all about quick and easy fixes for life’s dilemmas and the not-so-small industry of consultants, motivational speakers and authors that are standing in the wings to offer answers and potions. She rightly points to the grand daddy of all self-help offerings, “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale and its latest incarnation “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne as archetypical examples of this genre.

I am not against the intentions behind our quest for happier and richer lives. Like millions of others, I can nod my head in agreement with most of the wisdom contained in these offerings.  I have been a self-help junkie myself in the past. But as I get older, I have learned that I am not my ‘thinking’ and the little voice in my head is not always my friend. Most recovered alcoholics and addicts will tell you that it was their ‘thinking’ that took them to their

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In Pursuit of Happiness

By Kevin Brown | Bio

It seems that no matter where I turn these days, the search for happiness seems to be on many people’s mind. Perhaps during this time of economic turmoil, people are reconsidering the happiness quotient they attributed to possessions and financial security. In the Telegraph of London, Richard Gray and Alastair Jamieson report that “Psychologists have found that people who spend their money on simple experiences such as going to the theatre, dining out or taking adventure holidays tend to be happier than those who buy possessions, regardless of how much they spend.” They went on to quote Professor Ryan Howell, a psychologist at San Francisco State University, who conducted the study: “In life experiences, the only thing left afterwards is a memory of the event, but this tended to give people a greater sense of vitality and of being alive, which is satisfying to the higher psychological needs that humans have. Material items do not do that to nearly the same extent.”

Certainly, it has been my experience that my memories of times in which I was happy seem directed at events that occurred in my life, rather than focused on possessions that I collected over time. The happiest memories of my youth include going to the zoo, rides at the Calgary Stampede, and sailing off the coast of British Columbia as a Sea Cadet. As an adult, my happiest memories include my honeymoon, the arrival of my son, family vacations and our annual father-and-son trips.

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Beyond the Bailout: Measure What We Really Want

By David Korten | Website

Reprinted from  "Sustainable Happiness," the Winter 2009 YES! Magazine
284 Madrona Way NE Ste 116, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.  Subscriptions: 800/937-4451 

The only legitimate function of an economic system
is to serve life. At present, however, we assess economic performance
solely against financial indicators—gross domestic product (GDP) and
stock prices—while disregarding social and environmental consequences.

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National Unmarried and Single Americans Week

The third week of September in the U.S. is a time to celebrate the role all 92 million unmarried Americans–whether they are widowed, divorced, separated or ‘single’–play in our society. Organizations like Unmarried.org (the Alternatives to Marriage Project) are active in changing current stereotypes and addressing legislation and policies that deny an unmarried individual’s equal rights in terms of healthcare access and taxation. 

Bella DePaolo, a UC Santa Barbara

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Happiness and Age

The Journal of Positive Psychology recently published the results of a multi-year study of 818 people between the ages of 18 and 94 into the origins of life satisfaction throughout adulthood. The research team’s findings indicated that:

  • The key components of successful aging are not cognitive or physical functioning (older people tend to rate their happiness as high or higher than young people, in spite of medical concerns)
  • Self-reported health is not a key predictor of satisfaction
  • Knowledge, skills and experience required in life are not significantly associated with satisfaction
  • The capacity to reason abstractly and draw inferences was a key predictor of satisfaction in younger and middle-aged adults (intelligence is highly valued when one is still in the workforce)
  • Things that dissatisfy us the most remain constant

Lead author Karen Siedlecki, a post-doctoral research fellow in the cognitive neuroscience division at Columbia University, stated that, "The really key components of successful aging may be how happy you are
and how satisfied you are with your

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Today is the day for fools, foolishness and merry pranks played on friends, colleagues and neighbours. Because of the abundance of April Fools’ hoaxes in the media, many people distrust news reports and advertisements launched on this day. No such luck here at Serene Ambition…although, as in some countries like Britain, we do believe that jokes pulled after noon turn the prankster into the ‘fool’. Instead, we’d like to share a few famous insights into learning how to live wisely.


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What Do I Want?

It seems to me that we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking
about what we want in our lives. Last week I was working with a group
of people—mostly in their forties—and they shared that this was the
prevailing question in their lives. It got me thinking that this is the
question for all ages. At 65 I still ask it, although with less of a
need for an answer than at other times in my life.

What do I want? Simple enough question, but one that we seemingly don’t
answer or we wouldn’t

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Giving Your Best

As the evenings get cooler and days shorter here, summer holidays wind down. Everyone seems to be preparing for the start of September, and looking forward to the last real weekend before things start up again. Most everyone I talk with has enjoyed some of the summer outside with family and friends, and I find myself experiencing a twinge of regret. For me, the last few months have been a blur of work indoors in front of the computer, interspersed with a few brief moments of relaxation. This afternoon,

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I am spending a few days with a group of my best buddies. We call our
gang the ‘Old Souls’. This started about 7 years ago when nine of us
from all over the USA gathered at Vince’s farm for a long weekend,
generally to talk about whatever was on our minds to and specifically
to discuss our experiences and reflections as we entered mid-life.
We’ve been gathering three times a year at various locations ever
since. Some of the faces have changed over the

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