How to be Happy — Yale’s Most Popular Class

This year Professor Laurie Santos created Yale’s most popular class of all time. The class is titled Psychology and the Good Life but it’s really a course on how to be happy both in the short and long term. I was excited to hear that Yale was offering the course but even more excited to see that the class is available online. While there’s little I hadn’t heard before, it did a great job of focusing me on what’s important and helped me get into the practice of being happier.

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As You Wish — Watching the Princess Bride With Kids

I keep trying to find great movies to watch with my 8 and 5-year-old sons that are fun for all of us. The Princess Bride is one of the best. It’s a great movie for adults and it even has Peter Falk as the narrator grandfather to keep the kids engaged.

For the Adults

It has great writing from William Goldman and a superb cast including Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, and Andre the Giant. You also might remember some great lines like:

  • VIZZINI: Inconceivable!
    INIGO MONTOYA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
  • INIGO MONTOYA: My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!
  • PRINCE HUMPERDINCK:  Please consider me as an alternative to suicide.
  • MIRACLE MAX AND VALERIE: Have fun stormin’ da castle.

Explanations for the Kids

Most of the time when watching a movie with kids you have to answer questions like “Is this going to be a BORING MOVIE” from your kids. However, in The Princess Bride, the movie has included the characters Grandfather (Peter Falk) and Kid (Fred Savage) to step in for you and your kid and answer any questions, like…

Starting the Movie

GRANDFATHER: I brought you a special present.
KID: A book?
GRANDFATHER: That’s right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today, I’m gonna read it to you.
KID: Does it got any sports in it?
GRANDFATHER: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

When Kissing Appears

KID:  — Hold it, hold it— What is this? Are you trying to
trick me? —  Where’s the sports? — Is this a kissing book?
GRANDFATHER: — Wait, just wait —
KID:  Well, when does it get good?
GRANDFATHER: Keep your shirt on. Let me read.

At the Scary Part when the Giant Eel Attacks

GRANDFATHER: She doesn’t get eaten by the eels at this time.
KID: What?
GRANDFATHER: The eel doesn’t get her. Now, I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.
KID: I wasn’t nervous. Well, maybe I was a little bit concerned, but that’s not the same thing.

As You Wish

And if you’re looking for more, Wesley (Cary Elwes) wrote a wonderful behind the scenes tribute to the movie called As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (with audio that he narrates). This is literally a love letter to the movie. In the movie, “As You Wish” means “I Love You.” It’s a special movie as Cary writes in the introduction:

Over the past three decades, I’ve appeared in nearly a hundred movies and television shows. I’ve been a leading man and a supporting actor and worked in almost every genre. But whatever else I’ve done or whatever else I might do, The Princess Bride will always be the work with which I am most closely associated; and Wesley, with his wisp of a mustache and ponytail, the character with whom I will be forever linked.


These are a Few of My Favorite Words

To start with I found an amazing etymological podcast called The Allusionist by Helen Zaltzman. She has some great episodes on cursing [NSFW], Mountweazels (fictional words used in dictionaries for copyright purposes), portmanteaus (combination words like “brunch”) and eponyms (words named after people). She also had a great TED talk on how the letter i got a dot on top of it. Continue reading “These are a Few of My Favorite Words”

Why Do People Think That Wearing a Hoodie to Work is a Status Symbol?

I spotted a technology executive walking down the street. He used to wear expensive tailored suits. Now he’s coming to work in high-end jeans and a polo shirt. Then it hit me. Jeans and a turtleneck or jeans and a polo shirt (or really jeans and anything) is the new innovation wardrobe. On one level, it makes sense because everyone wants to dress like Steve Jobs. But when you dig a little bit deeper, using Silicon Valley clothes as a status symbol doesn’t make any sense at all.  Continue reading “Why Do People Think That Wearing a Hoodie to Work is a Status Symbol?”

How Strawberry Ice Cream Got the Short End of the Stick

In the class The Science of Well-Being, Professor Santos focuses on how we often look at our happiness not in an absolute way but by comparing ourselves to those around us. These thoughts about absolute vs. relative comparisons got me thinking about strawberry ice cream.

Whenever I eat strawberry ice cream, I think is pretty wonderful. It’s light, sweet, and just a little bit tangy. If I like strawberry ice cream so much, why am I surprised at this fact every time I eat it. I feel like I’m carrying some sort of bias against strawberry ice cream — but why?

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Reframing Bad News to Inspire the Team

A leader’s job is to inspire their team. This is easy when things are going well. A good leader can keep morale up even when there’s bad news. But a great leader can find a way to use the bad news itself as inspiration.

I remember two years ago working at a financial services firm in an innovation group. John was the leader of the group. He started out the weekly team meeting by saying, “We got some news over the weekend. We redid our projections for the project launch and instead of the $50 million that Tony projected, we are only going to make $5 million in the first year.”

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