It is Day 2 of the Less Things, More Happiness Challenge. As a reminder, the goal of this challenge is to improve my long-term happiness through science-backed practices and avoid doing it through spending money or materialistic possessions.
Remember that this is a collaborative challenge. Feel free to do the exercises in the challenge with me so you can improve as well.
On Day 1, I spent too long rambling and thinking so I committed to do less for Day 2. I want to focus on the happiness practices that science has proven to work.
Here is my agenda for the day:
- Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Walk outside.
- Ramble and think less.
- Focused on two happiness practices: gratitude and savoring the good.
I ended up doing a decent job.
Here is what I did for the Savoring section of my walk
This is what I savored during my walk:
- The different colored flowers and trees.
- The beautiful sky with small clouds.
- The amazing different shapes and sizes of the trees.
During my walk, I remembered I met someone from Hawaii who had lived there his whole life. For someone like me, I had fantasized about living an exotic location like that, but to him he kept saying it was overrated.
He kept focusing on the bad: the traffic, how expensive everything was, how you get over it quickly. It’s interesting to see how someone else’s trash is your treasure and how your treasure might be someone else’s trash. It is also a reminder that luxury and novelty die out fast. You get used to it and take it for granted.
I am sure there is someone out there in the world who dreams of just having a chill life where you can look at some trees and a perfect blue sky. Yet I walk by these trees often and don’t appreciate it. Heck, I take the legs I walk on for granted. Some people cannot even walk … or speak … or see.
I had some trouble really appreciating it and not taking it for granted (it’s not a beach) but I tried and I did feel better.
Here is what I did for the Gratitude section of my walk
I kept telling myself that I was being grateful but realized half way through that I was just saying it rather than actually being grateful for anything. I started listing things out in my head to be more definitive:
- My youth.
- My body.
- My arms.
- The fact that I have access to all these free educational resources through my school, library, and the Internet (I was reminded that in this age of Information Overload, it’s more important to decide what not to read and what to read).
- And I was most grateful for the opportunity to be born in a country with the economy that gave me the chance to achieve my dreams.
I walked past two little girls riding these new type of scooters with two wheels up front. They looked like this:
I was brought back to a memory as a kid where I was so happy when I got a normal scooter (one wheel on front and back) because it was this “new invention.” But now, those would look obsolete and lame compared to these more modern scooters.
It is a good reminder that:
- Material possessions are relative. There is always something newer and shinier coming out that will only bring temporary pleasure, not long-term happiness. People used to jump up and down just for having a TV back in the days when TVs were just invented. We are the spoiled child born into a rich world, we just don’t realize it.
- Time flies so appreciate life and enjoy it while you can.
- Be grateful for what you have.
It wasn’t that long ago when I was that little kid. As I watched them move around and turn corners, it was obvious that this design was better. You can turn much more smoothly.
When we’re young, the smallest of things made us dance with excitement and happiness. But as we got older, something changed. I started depending on material items, other people, and situations that we couldn’t always control for our happiness.
As the ten minutes were about to close, I realized that I had a hard time remembering the other practices that science said make us happier. I realize I need to work on that. You should have them ready to use at any time and turned into a habit.
I finally remembered also to be present. I made an attempt to really be present in the moment rather than constantly be thinking about the future, past, or some random theory or idea.
As I rounded out the 10 minutes, I paid attention to the present movement of my feet and trees. It was all kind of like meditating. Meditation is simply focusing on your breath and pushing out thoughts gently as they arise. Tim Ferriss has written a book called Tools of Titans that goes deeply into the benefits of meditation. He has interviewed hundreds of the world’s top performers and found that most of them meditate too.
I was trying to stop my thoughts so I could focus on the moment but it was hard. If a really strong thought did occur, I did not beat myself up. I let it flow through.
Why is being present important?
- It makes you happier.
- It makes you more attractive. Victoria’s Secret supermodel Miranda Kerr is just one example of a girl who said that in a Conan interview.
- When you are not present with the girl, you are elsewhere and it turns her off to think that you are thinking of the future by trying to predict answers to her questions to keep the conversation going or not connecting with her by thinking of your past or doing something else. You might as well be elsewhere.
I want to save a day of the Challenge for volunteering. Giving your time and/or money to others (strangers or friends) can help your happiness (according to science). Look forward to that in a future day of the Challenge.
I have been putting it off because I have found it to be a waste of my precious time to do that. Plus, I am a bit selfish. I am not really that much of a giving person in that sense. I realize there are a lot of different volunteer groups for different interests (pets, homeless people, etc.) but none of them interest me at all… yet.
Volunteering is a great place to meet incredible (sometimes successful) people as well as potential dates.
Looking at my progress, I still need to work on being present. As you can see, my mind still tends to wander a lot.
Leave your thoughts and follow along with the challenge with me. I can’t wait to see you on Day 3.
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