Is Happiness on the Street Possible?

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MJ Woods - Certified Professional
Rank: Orangutan | banana points 303

Friends,

Many WSO posts speak indirectly to the idea of happiness, or the absence thereof. Is it possible to find a work-life balance when you are pulling 60-80 hour work weeks, and engaging in hand-to-hand combat inside and outside the organization? Who hasn't walked on hot coals?

TRIP TO ST. LOUIS
The other weekend I stumbled upon a happiness lecture, as part of a "One Day University" course, held this particular day in St. Louis. The instructor, Catherine Sanderson, is a psych professor at Amherst college, my alma mater's arch rival. Here are a few highlights.

MARTHA WASHINGTON -- DISPOSITION MATTERS!
While this is an age-old subject, Catherine had me thinking about that elusive human condition in some new ways, and reminded me with a great Martha Washington quote that "a good part of happiness depends on our dispositions vs. circumstances..."

MANDELA -- KEEP YOUR HEAD POINTED TOWARD THE SUN
Nelson Mandela, who spent a good part of his adult years in prison -- 27 years of political imprisonment -- taught that being an optimist really helps. And part of being an optimist is "..keeping one's head, pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward." It's the power to adapt. Resiliency. Plus effort. Those are powerful human qualities that can combine to drive us forward in the face of adversity and uncertain winds of change.

HAPPINESS GETS EASIER AS WE GET OLDER!
The good news is the older we get, studies show the greater the probability that our happiness will increase (adverse selection may be a factor?). Studies show you just need to get to your 50s (child rearing can be stressful but incredible rewarding...speaking from a father w/two great teenagers and an -ex who excels in stress) and happiness as a whole begins to increase and continues to increase through our 70s and 80s. If we are lucky enough to get there!

BEHAVIORS THAT PROMOTE HAPPINESS
Here's Catherine's top 10 list, strategies for behaviors that help promote happiness.
You can visit her website at sandersonspeaking.com to learn more OR see the attached PPT. She has a new book, "The Positive Shift," coming out soon.

  1. Change behaviors: sleep, exercise, time outside, meditate
  2. Find Your Passion - Warren Buffett tap dances to work.
  3. Read
  4. Keep a Journal
  5. Make a Gratitude Visit - Visit someone in Need or who Helped you
  6. Smile - people who smile live longer (might be correlation vs. causation!)
  7. Perform Random Acts of Kindness
  8. Spend $ on Experiences vs. Stuff
  9. Avoid Comparisons - (Charlie Munger says Envy is the worst of the 7 deadly sins b/c there's no upside!)
    1. Build & Maintain Close Relationships

What are your thoughts and strategies for keeping a positive outlook on life? Fire away! Ha!

-MJW

AttachmentSize
PDF icon PPT Presentation on Happiness3.62 MB

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Comments (24)

May 14, 2018

So, clearly, my post bombed! Appreciate the effort to drive some interest. Not sure what is meant by the bulleted list and places that could help? Any clarification appreciated. Thx.

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May 14, 2018

Number 1 and 6 on your list are my favorite. Diet is something I didn't truly discover or work at until a few years ago, but I wish it would have happened earlier. It is absolutely mind blowing how much a clean diet with lots of water can change one's psychological stability, mental capacity, energy levels, attitude, and physical appearance. It has a massive effect on chemical balances in the body and brain.

Also, don't worry, the post didn't bomb. Sometimes everyone else is posting at the same time and a post just goes unseen. I thought it was a quality post.

May 14, 2018

Yeah it really depends on the day of the week and the time of day when your post comes up.

May 14, 2018

Thanks Squirrel.
Is there a good day of the week/time to post?
I was thinking Fridays, but maybe not....?
J

May 14, 2018

Appreciate that Parker. I was hearing crickets! And yes, diet is great point.

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May 15, 2018

Yup. People underestimate the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. Most people think it's just to "stay in shape" - well yeah, that's half of it. The other half is to fuel your body with "premium" gas and not the cheap shit. Chemical balances like you stated are the other 50% that most people don't think of / care about.

May 16, 2018

What is your diet usually?

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May 15, 2018

Good post. Maybe you would get more traction if you post it in the off topic forum?

RIP LEHMAN
RIP MONACOMONKEY
RIP THEACCOUNTING MAJOR

May 14, 2018

Thanks Wolf. I think you're right. In the future, I post like this one would be better placed in the off topic forum. -MJW

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May 15, 2018

Great post, perhaps because it deviates a bit from the normal expected content. Random acts of kindness (without posting it on instagram) is always a win win...

"I'm not fat. I'm cultivating mass."

May 14, 2018

Thank you.
MJW

May 16, 2018

Great book on happiness in the workplace and life in general is "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor. Must read. Shawn is a Harvard Professor and speaker/consultant to numerous F500 companies. The book is a great read because he presents numerous stories along with his 7 principles of happiness and gives real actionable steps to take.

May 14, 2018

Z-
Thanks for the book reference. Will have to check that out!
J

May 16, 2018

I struggle with 9 a lot. I'm an engineer now and visit this site because I'd like to get an MBA in a few years to switch careers. In the meantime I find myself comparing myself to the salaries of others my age, worried I won't get into a good MBA program (2.9 gpa), and that I'm just mediocre and nobody will love me! Ha. Definitely something I need to work at. Even if I stay an engineer, I can have a decent career, just not baller status.

May 14, 2018

Scram,
Engineering background + MBA = great combination for climbing the ladder.
If, in addition to those, you have people and communication skills that many engineers don't typically possess, that will make you a standout regardless of what the gpa says or doesn't say.
MJW

May 16, 2018

Thank you MJ. If I do decide to go back, I will start at age 30, which isn't too far off the median, so I should be okay. I appreciate the post.

May 16, 2018

Good stuff.
As a thought experiment, @MJ Woods do you think you'd be happier if your net worth doubled?
- A teenager myself

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."

May 14, 2018

It certainly would help alleviate some day-to-day anxiety about paying bills, etc. However, at some level I agree with the experts that income and net worth have decreasing utility and in some cases more wealth and income actually do the opposite. I'd be most happy this year if my income doubles! I'm a saver by nature.

Good question! You are a teen? Wow. Very forward looking, A.
MJW

May 16, 2018

If you aren't happy now; it'll be hard as hell to be happy working 3x as much.

For me it's more of a gratitude thing; being grateful for the many things in one's life will indefinitely lead you to appreciate, and find joy.

Find another outlet in life outside of finance as an anchor too. Lifting weights, Martial Arts, Rock Climbing, fucking wine tasting for all anybody cares. Anything to help you disconnect.

I think- therefore I fuck

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May 14, 2018

Well said, WLM.
Gratitude for what you have, including health and finding joy in small things.
F Wine tasting, or better yet drinking high quality wine is a simple pleasure that I enjoy.
Costco has some pretty good stuff for $15-$20 per bottle if you're on a budget and don't have the Jamie Dimon wine cellar.

May 18, 2018

Very nice post, and quite important to keep in mind in such a high-stress environment. I especially agree with bullet point 1 regarding sleep, exercise, etc. A lot of people don't truly appreciate how a good night's sleep and an hour of solid exercise can not only improve your physical condition but mentally as well. Also, would you say living a quotidian life is beneficial for happiness? I've heard that some people think that the same day over and over again in monotonous and boring, almost depressing, but I've also heard accounts that having some order in life makes them feel at peace. Thoughts?

Made ya look

May 14, 2018

Thank you for the complement and I agree on sleep and exercise. I feel so much better when I walk each day! What a thoughtful question having just watched the Royal wedding. I think the answer depends on the person. For me, order in life does bring me peace and contentment. I'm a chronic list maker, scratching off the "to dos" each day, and drawing up a new list just about every day. Not sure that's a good thing but I find it strangely calming! Happiness is the color in life that surprises, delights, and washes over me. Having both -- the quotidian and the extraordinary -- makes me feel human. You?

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