Secret to Happiness

So I recently read an article about a lecturer at Harvard named Tal-Ben Shahar, and he teaches the class “Positive Psychology”.

I think I need to remember some of these tips, too! 🙂

Happiness Tips:

  • Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions — such as fear, sadness, or anxiety — as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.
  • Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.
  • Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?
  • Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.
  • Remember the mind-body connection. What we do — or don’t do — with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.
  • Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

    Cited from: “Boston Globe Article

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    Who pays on a second date – Part 2

    I never thought this story would have a second part… (Who pays on a second date)

    But here it goes:

    So after the guy asked the girl to pay on their second date (Adam and Eve are their fake names), they talked a little bit, but Eve never saw him again.

    Suddenly, months later and out of the blue, Adam calls Eve and wants to hang out again.

    Question: How should she respond?

    Does he want another free meal? 😉

    Or maybe he didn’t realize how awkward he made Eve feel after that date?

    Isn’t waiting a month to call someone a bit too long anyway?

    What does Adam expect to get out of this?

    “Honey, let’s go to this formal”

    So, unless it’s a function for the husband’s/boyfriend’s company or his own wedding, usually, the women are the ones who initiate the idea of going to formals and getting dressed up fundraisers and events.

    Recently, there was a “Black and White Formal” in Philadelphia. And the requirements were simple and straightforward: Please only wear black and white attire.

    Soon after, a flood of inquiries from women came stumbling in. “Can my husband wear a dark gray suit?”, “Does my boyfriend have to wear ALL black? Can there be gray?”, “My husband has no black attire, is that ok?”

    Notice two things:
    1. All the emails are from women.
    2. The questions are all from the women asking for their husbands.

    Why aren’t the men asking these questions? If the man can’t find the appropriate attire, why don’t they try to figure it out? Unless… <gasp> they actually don’t really want to go!!



    1. The man doesn’t want to go. Therefore, he has no motivation to “solve the problem” of finding appropriate attire. But the woman really wants to go, so she tries to solve the problem for him and convinces him to go.

    2. The man would kind of like to go, but not enough to really take initiative and try to ask for leniency or try to go out and rent/buy the appropriate attire. So he just gives up. But the woman really wants to go, so tries to resolve the problem, makes the situation easier and then gets him to go.

    3. The man really wants to go, but is too embarrassed to ask a “clothing” related question. Therefore, he asks his wife/girlfriend to do it for him.

    Black and White Formal Attire

    Black and White Formal Attire

    I highly doubt that it’s number 3, because I think most mature guys will get over themselves and are capable to ask for more information and resolve their problems on their own.

    As for option number 1 and 2, is it that the woman just doesn’t realize that the man doesn’t want to go? Or she thinks, “if I have everything planned out and thought out, and the guy doesn’t have to think or make any effort, maybe he’d be more inclined to go.”

    So then brings us to the next point, why are women so insistent on going to formals? Is it the dressing up? So why don’t we just dress up on our own? Why do we have to bring a date? (and make our men go through miserable formals in tight and stuffy suits/tuxes with us?)

    Is there any way where women can still enjoy going to formals and dressing up? But not have to endure the pressure of getting a date? (Remember those days of our proms and school/sorority formals?)

    I can’t think of any solution yet. Don’t know if anyone else has come up with a solution yet either.

    But as for now, men, please comply once in awhile, and accompany us to these formals, even if it bores your mind to pieces. We, as women, will be very grateful for your presence and company!

    How petty is too petty?

    Ever find yourself caught in this situation?

    Ben and Jennifer are good friends, and one night, they kiss. One person really likes the other person, and they feel that the kiss is “oh, just so RIGHT!”. A few weeks later, the other person shows up at a party and brings another guy/girl that they may be potentially interested in.

    Now what?

    Let’s say Jennifer has had a little crush on Ben for awhile, and when they kissed, she had her hopes up in thinking that something more was about to happen. However, few weeks later, Ben brought another girl to a party.

    Now before Jennifer starts hating on the girl or on Ben, or before she runs out of the party sobbing and feeling heartbroken and cheated on, maybe we can freeze-frame, and consider a few questions.

    Did Ben ever like Jennifer in the first place? What was he thinking after the kiss? (Did he think?!) Is he even interested in the 2nd girl that he brought to the party? or maybe they’re just friends?

    Graph to depict all 4 possibilities:

    What is Ben thinking?

    Scenario 1. Let’s say Ben was interested in both. Is that wrong? Should he only focus on one girl at a time? Or is it his prerogative to hang out with both girls at once? By kissing Jennifer, he may have broken the “friend” code (or the “friend” boundary). So is Jennifer being too petty by being upset? Or is Ben being inconsiderate?

    Scenario 2. Ben is interested in Jennifer. So why did he bring the 2nd girl? Is he playing games? Maybe he’s just super naive and doesn’t realize the situation. Maybe he likes Jennifer, but doesn’t realize that she likes him back and cares a lot if he shows up with another girl. So is Ben just being clueless? Or is Jennifer overreacting to the situation? Maybe she should ask about the whole thing before jumping into conclusions and causing World War 3.

    Scenario 3. Ben is interested in the 2nd girl. So maybe he used to be interested in Jennifer, but not anymore. Or maybe he just never was interested in Jennifer. Does it matter? He’s not interested in her now. Is it fair to Ben that Jennifer is holding him accountable for his past actions? Is she just being way to petty and immature? Or is Ben just not being very careful in tying up the loose ends? Did he need to explain anyway?
    Ben’s argument: A kiss was a kiss. And that’s all it was. Maybe I thought it was a good idea at the time. But many things have changed in the past few weeks. Don’t I have the option to move on? When we kissed, there really was no commitment, so why are you (Jennifer) holding me to it?
    Jennifer’s argument: A kiss is a kiss. And that makes things more complicated. How are you responsible or respectful to me if you just kiss me one day and then run off with another girl the next?

    Scenario 4. Ben is not interested in either girl. He’s just being nice and friendly (maybe flirty?). Then the questions are, why did he kiss Jennifer? Maybe he thought he was interested, but not anymore? Maybe showing up to the party with the girl wasn’t really a date, just an opportunity to get to know the girl more. And so he didn’t really have feelings for her (the 2nd girl), just wanted to hang out and get to know her more. So if Jennifer is making a big deal out of it, is she just adding drama? Or is she valid is having all the questions and anger and jealousy? Or perhaps all this headache was for nothing, because Ben might be actually interested in girl 3 … or maybe he’s… gay?

    So in light of the situation, is someone being inconsiderate and irresponsible? or is someone being overly petty?

    Should Ben have been more sensitive to Jennifer’s feelings? Or is he justified in acting the way he did? Do we let it slide because we think “oh, guys just sometimes don’t realize things”, or is that just an excuse to get off easy?

    Should Jennifer just have backed off, and moved on? Realizing that Ben may be no longer interested in her, or that she’s not interested in guys acting this way? Or was she justified in being upset, feeling heartbroken and then taking action? What’s the benefit in taking action? Just the sheer satisfaction?

    “Story of a Girl”

    My students wrote this as a birthday present for me! super creative!
    They sang it to me and I started crying. So touched by their efforts! 🙂 Thanks, guys!

    (To the tune of “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” by Nine Days)

    This is the story of a girl
    Who tries to go and absorb the whole world
    And while she always seems to be on the go
    She needs to take a break to,
    Celebrate! (*happy birthday!*)

    How many days in a year?
    She’s got so many roles that she always changing gears
    Daughter, sister and Penn engineer
    Making her promises –always so real!
    As long as she keeps on striving,
    (she’ll be) Growing through obstacles God throws her way
    How many years disappear,
    Before she steps back to savor her works?
    Your song never ceases to inspire Sundays
    And your cheer never runs in quite the same way
    And you never seem to run out of things to say…

    This is the story of a girl
    Who tries to go and absorb the whole world
    And while she always seems to be on the go
    She needs to take a break to,
    Celebrate! (*happy birthday!*)

    So how does she make up for time?
    She seems to be hopping day after day
    How does she fill up her days?
    Well you gotta first look at what her works say
    She does things that make her happy
    Fitting her rhythm and syncs with her needs
    How will she find what she craves?
    When she’s distracted by beer chips and meetings galore
    Third culture kid with amazing smarts
    And she’s filled with a joy that consumes her whole heart
    So what the heck can we offer this birthday gal?

    This is the story of a day
    2X years (plus a week!), it is what we’ll say
    Happy Birrr-thday, we hope you’ll stay
    To enjoy this song we wrote you
    With a smile

    Every time you threaten to leave

    I don’t think it’s fair when every time a couple fights, one person threatens to leave.

    That is so hurtful and so scary.

    We blame each other about insecurities. But what if, just what if, our attitudes and threats are the origins of our partner’s insecurities in the relationship? Then who can you blame?! No one else but ourselves!

    Every time you want to threaten to leave, don’t do it. Stop yourself. Hold you tongue. Swallow those words back down. Try to say things in a different way. Too many “ultimatums” and threats will someday come true. And you’ll be the one clawing for a way back and asking to rebuild that bridge. But too late, because that bridge had been slowly torn apart and broken down day by day, month by month, year by year from all your empty threats to leave.

    If you say you love them, then be it. Don’t just say it. Stay and fight. Stay and work things out. Threatening does nothing. In fact, it shows that you have nothing left to use, and can only always reach for your trump card. A trump card of manipulation. To try to scare the other person in conforming to your ways and your desires.

    If you really love them, actually try to work it through. Stop throwing out your trump card every new moon. Stop breaking the bridge that you’re trying to build. Are you doing more damage than growth in your relationship?

    Every time you threaten to leave, you’re damaging “us” just a bit more.

    Jealousy: How much is too much?

    How much jealousy is the right amount? and when is it just too much?

    At first sight, a little jealousy is sweet. You wouldn’t want a boyfriend or girlfriend who could care less if you flirted with another person, kissed, or even slept with another person. It’s sweet. It means they care. But when is it crossing the boundaries?

    1. One that can’t differentiate between friend or foe. Even though you’ve told them multiple time this is a FRIEND. And you’re not hanging out one on one, but everytime the person appear, even at the same party, you significant other gets all upset. And you end up having to spend the whole night consoling him/her. (and it doesn’t matter that you’ve known the friend for 7 years, and have gone through crazy times together, and this “significant other” has only been in your life for 3 months…)

    2. It’s your party. And you have to play host. And you need to make sure everyone who’s at your party is having fun. Your significant other feels neglected. Even though they are your priority, but you were hoping they’d jump in and help invite and welcome all the guests. But they end up sulking in a corner, upset because they accuse you of ignoring them and talking to everyone else.

    3. Getting upset about you past. There are things you can’t change. For example dating old exes and other people that they may not approve of, yet this was well before the two of you even met. If they get jealous, it is of your past, and there is nothing you can do. This is getting ridiculous.

    4. When you’re just casually dating, and at someone else’s party, this person gets furious at you because other guys who are interested in you start talking you. Doesn’t matter if they knew you before him/her, and are friends with you before this person, they get outraged, to the point where they stomp off or ignore your calls. And the next day, he/she turns it on you and makes it out to be your fault.

    5. You’re excited  because of a Phillies win or because you just cheered someone and they won! You’re hugging every single one of your friends around you. You are all jumping up and down. Suddenly, he/she sulks and says you’re being too friendly. You have no idea when they just suddenly snapped. Completely confused, you want to straighten out the situation and try to talk it out. They throw a temper tantrum and want you to pick up the pieces. That is jealousy getting completely OUT OF HAND.

    So now, what do you do?

    I don’t know. I’m not sure. This seems like a really sticky situation. Do you just walk away from the whole situation? Or do you try to work it out? When is it irreversible damage? and unreconciliable differences?