At this point in the letter, I like to talk about happiness. We’ve got a clean slate for the new year, why not start it off happy?!
- According to Robert Sapolsky, research says that the following things lower our stress and make us happy. As a side fact, you get a lot more benefits if you enjoy doing these things and aren’t forced to do them:
- Exercise: Do 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. It’ll make your heart and brain work better as well as reduce your stress levels.
- Meditate: Meditation lowers your blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels. It also lets you put stressors in perspective.
- Friends and Family: Having friends and family you love and trust helps keep us calm.
- Sleep: The human body needs 7-9 hours of sleep. Less than this causes significant stress on the body.
- I took Yale’s Happiness Class, the most popular class ever given at the University. Here are my key takeaways from the online class.
- Drew Dudley gives a quick TED Talk about how a simple act like giving a stranger a lollypop can change someone’s life.
- Jonathan Rausch wrote a great book called The Happiness Curve which explains the unhappiness of mid-life (sometimes called a mid-life crisis) and how it goes away. He has a good summary of the book in The Atlantic.
- Choose the most respectful interpretation. It’s always best to assume people are doing the best that they can. For example, if someone cuts you off on the highway, it’s best to assume that they REALLY needed to get somewhere fast—instead of holding on to the anger.
- I wrote a piece on Edward Harkness, one of the world’s greatest humble philanthropists. He was a mediocre Yalie who donated a large fortune to Harvard and Yale in the 1930s so that other unexceptional students wouldn’t fall through the cracks.
- This year was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity.
- Drew Dudley gives a quick TED Talk about how giving a stranger a lollypop can change someone’s life.
- Sarah Kay wrote the poem If I Should Have a Daughter that highlights the magical bits of parenting.
- Tania Finlayson has cerebral palsy. She worked with her husband to create a Morse code interface so she could talk.
- When Michael Bloomberg was mayor, he spent $650M of his own money helping run the city.
- When I’m looking for inspiration, I can always find it in Ze Frank’s work. There’s a great retrospective of his work in this TED talk. When I need some courage to get up and do something, I can always rely on this kickoff to his 2012 web series.
- And don’t feel you can only love “important” things. Take a look at this great book review, How a Book About Grover Revealed to Me the Wide World of Literature.
- Choose the most respectful interpretation. It’s always best to assume people are doing the best that they can and give yourself a break and realize that you’re doing the best that you can. For example, if someone cuts you off on the highway, it’s best to assume that they REALLY needed to get somewhere fast — instead of holding on to the anger
- This is just a great video about creativity and imagination from Disney World. When I was a teenager, there was a great pre-show movie in Epcot about imagination and creativity. The movie ran from 1995-2003. A few years ago, some people re-created the video based on the original movie
- The poem If I Had a Daughter by Sarah Kay is inspiring to me as a father. Like many great poems, she must have spent years getting this one just right
- Don’t be afraid to love the little things in life. Here was a great book review from a serious author about How a Book About Grover Revealed to Me the Wide World of Literature
- Anil Dash had an amazing Twitter stream in early December asking Who is a person (not counting family) that opened doors for you in your career when they didn’t have to? Anytime is a good time to show gratitude!