Try Developing Your Passion Instead

Most experts will tell you that an exploration of interests, hobbies, past times and your values will help you find your passion. The assumption with this approach is that you must already have a passion hidden somewhere in your psyche. According to some Standford research you are better developing it instead. The researchers found that  “that when people encounter inevitable challenges, that mindset makes it more likely people will surrender their newfound interest”

The research looked at two different mindsets: fixed and growth. The fixed mindsets were the most problematic because “Being narrowly focused on one area could prevent individuals from developing knowledge in other areas that could be important to their field at a later time” The research confirms that the novelty of the new passion tends to wears off once a person encounters inevitable difficulties. Instead by putting in time and work into an interest the reward of following through develops the passion for that interest.

I can attest to this. About 10 years ago I was pressured into playing a tabletop miniatures game. I only did it because my friends were. I saw it as expensive and time consuming even though it looked like a bit of fun. I invested the time and effort to build, paint and maintain an army of miniature fantasy figures. Even though I eventually lost interest in the game I managed to develop a passion for painting miniatures and building terrain. I now paint and model miniature villages. I’ve come to know nearly everything to know about building terrain, streets, rivers, hills and all the houses, parks, buildings and other features in any village and I paint the miniature villagers to live in it and I absolutely love it.

So while we do need to do a bit of searching for an interest Standford’s research does show that by persisting we can develop a passion for anything from a hobby like building miniature villages to entire careers and lifestyles. So don’t be discouraged when you encounter setbacks in your interest because with some perseverance you may find that whatever it is that you are not liking doing anymore will soon become something you can’t live without.




Journal October 12th 2018: The Hope Page

Very happy to announce that the Hope Page has been published. The page is a work in progress and will include:

  • A table of contents
  • More content. The page will be regularly updated
  • Links to other resources related to hope and mental health
  • Sources and reading material

The page could use some reformatting at some point to accommodate a lot of content without being cluttered or hard to read and hard to navigate but it will do for now.

The page is ultimately my little contribution to the world and if I can help even one person be happy and hopeful on their own terms than it has served it’s purpose. Anything above and beyond that is all the better.


Acceptance and Action Part 3: Decision Making

One day before I was married I decided to join a singles website and meet people. What an experience that was. At first I was excited by the fact that there were so many potential partners. The site I used had millions of members worldwide. So I thought: ‘It should be easy to find someone’, was I ever wrong about that. Many dates later I was becoming discouraged. I was beginning to think no one on the site was serious about finding someone. One day I randomly messaged a woman and started talking to her. At that point I had become very indifferent and didn’t have any expectations of a good outcome. We agreed to meet, and to make a long story short, not even two years later we were married. The decision to meet her was very random and at the time I was simply bored and lonely. Amazing what that one simple decision to message someone on a single’s website did for me. That one simple and totally random act lead me to the happiest days of my life and the two children I love more than anything.

When decisions are important we need to be using a good decision making process. Knowing what decisions are important enough to take the time to follow a process can be difficult but when we do experts have laid out a few good methods we can use.

  1. SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.  This strategy is commonly used by business and industry but can be applied to personal decisions as well. By analyzing our personal situation we can more objectively make a decision.  Like this example of someone considering running for mayor:
  2. Cost-benefit analysis:  Using the following chart you list the cost benefit of an action (or inaction) and then use a little math to see whether the cost or the benefit is higher. For example I am currently deciding whether or not to change jobs: I will then do a bit of math. I have 5 advantages and 4 disadvantages for a total of nine. out 100% that’s 11.11% each. So Advantages is 55.55% and disadvantages 44.44%. So, there is a greater advantage to changing jobs. Some people put greater weight on certain things such such as being happier. This one I would weigh as double because being happy in your job is so important. Putting greater weight on an advantage or disadvantage depends on our values.

These are just two of many ways to make a decision. This is a great list that includes decision trees, Pareto Analysis and t-charts. All these techniques, of course, are only useful for decisions that we have time to think about. For quick decisions we must rely on our intellect and experiences. These quick decisions are, of course, affected by out complex psychology. Our memory, experiences, unresolved issues, personalities, physiology, personal situations and many other things can help or hinder us when we make quick decisions.

Regardless of the decision we make whatever happens we must be prepared to cope with the outcome and deal with whatever consequences there are, which is what this site hopes to help people do.

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Journal September 25th, 2018: Music

I love music, always have. When no one else was around to support me or money was tight or I was sick or anytime the going got tough music was always there for me, my best friend. Music cheers me up, energizes me,  calms me down, makes me nostalgic and brings back fond memories. Music’s profound impact is obvious on individuals, groups, and entire cultures. There is a lot of research to show why music has so much influence on people and I will show this in a future post.

In the meantime  here a short list of songs often considered as the most widely known and powerful of all time.

Historical (In western culture):

  1. Ode to Joy. Part of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
  2. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
  3. “Hallelujah Chorus” George F. Handel
  4. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” by Wolfgang A. Mozart
  5. “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini
  6. “Toccata in d minor” by Johann S. Bach
  7. Fur Elise by Beethoven
  8. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Richard Strauss
  9. Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
  10. The Four Seasons; Antonio Vivaldi

A short list among dozens worth listening to, any lover of music should know these and more. Here is a great list of 200 classics for your enjoyment.

There are many great lists around the web and they are all worth exploring. Whatever your taste in music is you can find amazing suggestions all around. There are many absolute wonders for the ears just waiting to be found. It’s worth searching for that perfect song because when you find it words can not describe how great the feeling is.



Brighten Someone’s Day With Some Feedback

Positive words to another person can really go a long way. Humans are social beings and our words are powerful things. In fact there are entire fields of psychology and philosophy dedicated to language and social interaction. When we are talking to people we can make ourselves and the other person feel pretty good, sometimes with a few simple words.

Research shows that compliments stimulate the part of the brain associated with performance and according to CARLA (Center For Advanced Research on Language Acquisition) compliments can have a variety of uses:

A great majority of compliments are addressed to people of similar age and status to the compliment giver (Knapp, Hopper, & Bell, 1984 [©]).

The way a compliment is received is dependent on the context in which it is given and the self-esteem of the receiver. People with a low self-esteem aren’t as receptive to compliments as people with a normal or high self-esteem.  Culture and upbringing can also affect this. For example there are cultures where it is more acceptable to compliment children or cultures where it might not be acceptable to compliment a person’s spouse…etc. Depending on upbringing, ideology and circumstances compliments may or may not be well received.

However when the situation allows it a compliment can go a long way to helping ourselves and the other person feel great. One study shows it stimulates the part of the brain responsible for a feeling of reward

Compliments are little gifts of love They are not asked for or demanded. They tell a person they are worthy of notice. They are powerful gifts.

Hara Estroff Marano

Even constructive criticism (i.e. You are doing it too fast, slow down a little and you will notice more detail or you’re soup will taste a lot better with a bit more onion…etc.) can be very positive. We must be careful to keep this kind of feedback positive but when carefully worded constructive criticism is often a practical way to help someone improve their job or life somehow.

Never be afraid to give someone a compliment. Even if the compliment is not well received no one in their right mind would ever get or stay angry and we have a much greater chance of brightening their day and your own.





Pick Your Battles

Some call it stubbornness or pig-headedness , a determination not to change your mind or attitude no matter what. Some admire this, especially on ethical grounds. Someone who will also do what’s right even in the face of danger or death is someone worthy of respect indeed. However, when does being stubborn become unreasonable? A tough question to answer, it would depend on the circumstances of each specific situation. There are however some rules we can follow. There are truly some things that should stand above all else. True courage is not letting our ego stand above them and wisdom is knowing what they are. For example:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Job
  • Safety and Security

By not letting another person have last word or win the argument we can damage our relationships, put our livelihoods at risk, ruin a family get together, get into a physical confrontation and may other things that really aren’t worth it.

What comes next after this short list requires an examination of what’s important to us. An honest examination will put being right pretty low on the list for nearly everyone. We also need to ask: What will being right do for us? Unless letting that other person be wrong or win the argument puts one of you in danger than the answer is usually not much or nothing at all. Much like don’t sweat the small stuff needing to be right often just wastes energy and causes us unnecessary stress.

Of course on the other end of the spectrum letting others be right all the time allows them to push us around and take advantage of us. It can be a tough call to make and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, knowing when to walk away or end a discussion requires a clear picture of what is truly important to us. We wont always make the right call but at the end of the day most of us can agree that putting our relationships with friends and family or our job at risk is not worth trying to make someone see your point of view.

Save your sanity and pick your battles wisely and you will be happier for it.

It’s All Small Stuff

For longest time I didn’t know ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff’ was actually a book by Richard Carlson, I just thought it was a common expression. I always liked the idea because I was fortunate enough, through personal experience, to believe that it was true. I had been lucky enough to have gained the perspective of just how insignificant our problems are. Understanding why ‘it’s all small stuff’ gives us a tremendous ability to tackle our problems knowing that everything will be OK. Achieving this perspective can done by understanding the size of and age of things that most of us never actually think about.



Humans: Tallest person ever recorded was  2.72 m (8 ft 11.1 in)

Trees: 10 feet (3.048 m)- 379.7 feet (115.7 m)

Boeing 747:  Length 250ft (76.25 m) and weight 306 Tonnes (403, 000 pounds)

Empire State Building: 1454 feet (443.2 m) tall

Mount Everest: 8,848 m (29,000 feet) tall

The Earth:  Circumference 3,963 miles (6,378 kilometers) and surface area  of 510.1 million km²

The Sun: Approximately 864,400 miles (1,391,000 kilometers) across.

This is how small pour entire planet is even from just outside our tiny solar system

To put this all in perspective our sun is considered only a medium sized star and our galaxy (the Milky Way has about 100 Billion stars.) It is also 100,000 light years in diameter ( one light year is 5.88 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km) and that is small for a galaxy. This really great interactive scale of the universe tool helps us understand these scales a bit better.

As we go up the scale learn just how tiny we are. Even a tortoise or a sea urchin have longer lives we do. All we have to do is look in our backyard and the tree standing there could be five to ten times as tall as we are and decades older.

Nothing To DrinkAlso, how bad are our problems? Around 2011 the meme ‘first world problems’ went viral and helped everyone have a laugh at their insignificant problems.  The meme pokes fun at the complaints of individuals in the more affluent parts of the world. This includes complaints like having no WiFi, not being able to fly first class,  or not being able to book a favorite restaurant. This list a is a good example. The expression ‘first world problems’ quickly became part of regular language in the western world. Whenever someone says ‘first world problems’ they are pointing out that a complaint or frustration is actually not as bad we might think it is.

First world problems makes an excellent point when you think of figures such as the following:

  • Hunger: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about 815 million people of the 7.6 billion people in the world, or 10.7%, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2016. Almost all the hungry people live in lower-middle-income countries. There are 11 million people undernourished in developed countries(source)
  • War: 68.5 million people fleeing war or persecution worldwide (source)
  • Disease: AIschemic heart disease alone was responsible for about 9.43 million deaths in 2016. However, all cardiovascular diseases together cause over 17.8 million deaths annually worldwide.  (source)

Sad realities but it’s important to remember how lucky we are to have unlimited access to food, water and security in our lives. Most of us in the Western world have never lived in the kind of fear or desperation that millions do everyday. Even in supposedly affluent countries there are people in our own neighborhood who are going hungry, have been victims of violent crime or are suffering from a debilitating disease.

When one considers this our problems are truly insignificant. Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot speech is a beautiful example of this perspective. No one should ignore their problems, in fact, ignoring them often makes them worse but remembering how fleeting our lives and problems are helps us cope. Our lives and our problems are important but at the end of the day we know they will pass because time will pass and time cures all wounds.



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Journal Sunday August 26th, 2018: A New Resource Page

As ardent web surfer I have discovered so many great websites and resources I thought it was high time to start sharing them all. So this site will soon include a hope and happiness resource page.  I will likely do overviews of the really good ones individually before adding them because some warrant exploration and praise above and beyond others. The page will also include media resources such as books, movies and journals and links to people and organizations that can provide hope and happiness in some way.

It’s truly amazing the hope and happiness we can bring to each other and ourselves. We don’t need the external help of unproven entities, religious dogma or superstition. We don’t need the false promises of charlatans who lie and cheat and lighten our wallets. There are countless websites, people and organizations that can do that for us and in ways based on the sciences and the humanities. Bringing as many of these together in one resource page would be very useful indeed.





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