Almanac – Happiness

On Happiness

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.

From 2018:

From 2017: