Category Archives: new years resolutions

2015 Happiness Project: Step 2

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Welcome back to the 2015 Happiness Project. How was your Deviate for a Day? Let me know in the comments. Today is Step 2, and hopefully it’ll be fun and very enlightening. All you need to do for this step is take an online survey that’s going to change your life.

In my last post, I mentioned The Time Paradox. The thrust of the book is that there are 5* major dimensions of looking at time. 3 are healthy and 2 are unhealthy:

  1. Past Negative: dwelling on how things in the past went wrong, and how you could have done things differently.
  2. Past Positive: fondly recalling wonderful memories of the past, and keeping family traditions alive.
  3. Present Fatalism: the feeling that nothing you do matters because your life is determined by fate, not by your personal choices.
  4. Present Hedonism: stopping to smell the roses, getting together with friends, being impulsive. Despite the name, this one’s actually healthy to have in the right dosage.
  5. Future: planning, goal-setting, delaying gratification, health/fitness. Typical Type-A stuff.

The following survey (created by the authors) will help you figure out how dominant each time perspective is for you personally. Here’s the survey: http://www.thetimeparadox.com/zimbardo-time-perspective-inventory/

Here are my results:

  1. Past Negative: 2.9 (slightly high)
  2. Past Positive: 4.1 (ideal)
  3. Present Fatalism: 1.7 (ideal)
  4. Present Hedonism: 3.1 (too low)
  5. Future: 3.8 (ideal)
  6. Transcendental Future: 2.2 (too low)

Here are the ideal results (according to the authors), along with percentile distributions:

As you can see, I have to work on living in the present, and also on reinterpreting past life events in a more positive way.

Next post we’ll look at some concrete steps you can take to improve your happiness, no matter what your scores are.

* There’s also a 6th, but it’s uncommon among Westerners: Transcendental Future, or a future beyond the lifespan of our current physical body. You can take a separate quiz to determine your score on this dimension.

Join the 2015 Happiness Project (a fun, effective alternative to New Year’s Resolutions)

       

I’m doing something different instead of traditional New Year’s Resolutions this year. I just read two amazing books about Happiness: “Stumbling on Happiness” and “The Time Paradox.”

The former has more to say about the crazy quirks of our brains that make happiness so elusive, but it was really the latter book that got me thinking about a concrete plan to improve my happiness. I guess you could say that my New Year’s Resolution is “be happier”, and the following is a plan to make it happen. I call it

The 2015 Happiness Project

From now until the end of December, there’s a bit of prep and homework (it’s fun!), and then in 2015, we’ll spend the year focusing on activities that are proven to make us happier (these are backed by science, and they might surprise you!)

Step 1: Deviate for a Day

(This comes from The Time Paradox)

What makes you happy will change, and you’ll need to change with it. This is a fun and effective exercise that encourages you to embrace change.

Here’s how it works: first make a list of the important aspects of your self-image. Consider your abilities, appearance, and personality. Your task, for one day, is to violate one important aspect of your self-image. If you take pride in your appearance, jump out of bed and go straight to work. If you never swear, throw a few fucking four-letter words into your vernacular. If you’re an atheist, carry around a Bible. Etc.

Once you’ve done this for one day, you can go back to your old ways, but the liberating feeling might stay with you and who knows, maybe you’ll like the new weird You better. Either way, you’ll realize that change is possible, even extreme changes.

My Deviate for a Day:

I take pride in my no-nonsense wardrobe and style, so on Friday, I’m going to take meticulous care in grooming and go to work in my nicest suit and tie. Maybe I’ll post a photo.

Let me know in the comments how you plan to “deviate for a day.” Have fun, and be happy!