Monday, October 25, 2021

10 Specific Actions That Can Help You Become Happier (an audio podcast)

Focus:  Whether you're part of a project team or a family group, when individuals are happy, the entire group will likely be happy! But how can you become happier? In this archived podcast from 2009 I share 10 specific actions that I’ve taken to create more happiness in my life.

------------------ October 2021 Update ------------------

This podcast was originally produced in December of 2009. In the 12 years since its release, social media companies and their fine-tuned algorithms have mastered the art of manipulating our consciousness. They pull us in and lock us down into contentious tribes. The sites cherry-pick news, opinion, sensationalistic rants, memes & images that exactly match our unique biases and push our buttons. Then they serve them up in a customized stream to keep us angry, warring and, most importantly to their bottom line, glued to their sites. 

If I were creating this podcast today, my highest-priority Action for producing happiness would be:

  • Ration your time (or remove yourself entirely!) from social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. 
These sites are powerfully toxic to our happiness. At the very least, they generate a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out) as we see our "friends'" self-servingly-edited timelines and perfect lives unfold via their curated posts. And, at their worst, the algorithms keep us angry and outraged and posting our own venom. And all this is antithetical to happiness!

So as you listen to this podcast (or read the transcript) consider the powerful negative roles these social media sites have come to play in our lives as omnipresent aggregators of everything that irritates and enrages us. Then ask yourself: "If I am pursuing peace of mind and happiness, why am I engaging these toxic social media dumps?" 

--------------[End of October 2021 Update]--------------

(Use the control bar below to download or play the podcast. Or scroll down and simply read the rest of the transcript. Enjoy!)

[Transcript of this audio was originally published on December 7, 2009. Some links referred to below may no longer be valid]


In this post, we focus on the individual instead of the team. After all, teams are made up of individuals. And when individual team members are happy, there’s a good chance the entire team will be happy! But how can anyone become happier? To begin to answer this question, I share 10 specific actions that I’ve taken to create more happiness in my life. (And I hope you will share your suggestions in the Comments section at the end of this post.)

1. Turn off the local news; it’s not real.

Think about it. News production is a business. News producers must create powerful headlines that generate a sense of urgency on the part of viewers or listeners. They want big, bold, sensational announcements that scream nervously about fires, murders, local indiscretions by public figures… all to attract a large audience. If it’s nasty and ugly and sensational, we’re going to hear about it. To make matters worse, these kinds of stories are comparatively easy to get.  Journalists can simply listen in on the local police scanners, follow the police or fire department to the scene of the latest crime or accident, and pick up that sensational story.  So it’s easy for broadcasters to bury us in this drek! Yet, at the same time, there are countless little acts of kindness in neighborhoods everywhere that go unreported.  What’s more, there are employees who labor quietly to create a great new product, or go that extra mile to serve their customers, or otherwise make their anonymous positive contributions to make the world a better place. But most of this positive energy goes unnoticed by local news producers.

The result: You come home from a long, hard day at work, turn on local news, and a glut of negative energy pours over you. You wallow in bad events that simply aren’t real for you, your family, or the people in your neighborhood! Ultimately you begin to feel a little uneasy, sad or angry.  If you aren’t careful, this stuff begins to cast a dark shadow over your whole life. But you don’t have to let this happen! You can do what I do: I turn off my local news and go out and enjoy a walk in my neighborhood or call a friend or relative and say Hi or whatever! I do anything other than sit through all that bad news.  (What about the local weather, you ask? No worries. I get my local weather, updated every few minutes, from the internet!)

2. Turn off the national & world news; it’s not real either.

The same business dynamics related to local news apply to the national and world news.  And worse yet, with national and world journalism, the scale of the bad news is typically much grander.  The bad behaviors of public figures are said to have world-wide implications. The wars (there are always wars, right?) and acts of inhumanity are captured in gory detail. And it is implied that the local disaster on the other side of the world could soon apply to you, in your neighborhood.  Meanwhile, in nations all over the world, public officials, citizens, and workers labor quietly to do their jobs as best they can and generate countless acts of kindness that go uncelebrated. So again, I suggest this: Turn off the national and world news, go outside and look around. There’s a good chance that all that bad news that was so compelling as it poured into your home is simply not a reality in your back yard, in your neighborhood, in you family, or among your friends. And if it’s not in these places, then it’s not real to you. So why let it shape your thoughts and your mood?

Here’s a challenge: Stop watching local, national, and world news for one solid week. At the end of the week, tune in to a news broadcasts and see how you feel. If you’re like me, you’ll be shocked at the amount of negative energy these things spew at you. And you’ll probably quickly turn them off again!

Remember these words from Marcus Aurelius:  “Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind, for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.” So the question is:  Do you want your soul to be dyed the color of bad news or the color of the countless good deeds that are happening all around you?