Tuesday, October 19, 2010
2. Get a crackerjack assistant - or see what you can outsource, or see how web-based personal assistant services might work for you, or talk with your supervisor about moving some administrative support your way. What could you do (Carry the pager one extra weekend per month? Clean the break room fridge?) in exchange for two hours per week of clerical services by someone already in the organization?
3. Find a great personal planner or smartphone app, and use it for every commitment, every relationship, and every obligation. A calendar is not a scolding reminder of doctors' appointments. It's your number one tool for making sure that you are living the life you are here to live. With any luck you've got 85 years or so here on the planet. Minus your current age. Multiplied times 365. That's how many days you've got to play with (or work with). Now how do you want to use them, what do you want to do most? Write it down, break it down, and then schedule it.
4. Use a "single in-box." See David Allen's "Getting Things Done" for a great discussion of this. In your work or home office, the single in-box is an actual physical "box." In your planner or calendar app, this "in box" is your To Do list. Yep, the To Do list is a virtual "in box." It's the one place where you write down all the things you need to do, want to do, hope to you. All the phone calls you need to make, websites you want to check out, songs you want to download. One list. In fact, let's go ahead and do it; you know those 4 or 5 things that are banging around inside your head right now? The thing with the snow tires, the email from your sister, the umbrella insurance policy you wanted to check out? Write it down now. And then tomorrow when you're doing your regularly scheduled deep-checking-in with yourself (see #5), you'll review that list and move the most important ones to your calendar.
5. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier every day. Get up. Pull out your planner or your calendar app (both you and your phone are fully recharged at this point), and look at your schedule with an eye towards "what do I want to do with the time I've got today." If you're working two jobs or raising children by yourself you probably don't have too much unstructured time. And so you, of all people, have got to take this question seriously. What am I going to do with the one or two unstructured hours I have on my calendar today? What about that to-do list of everything you need to do, want to do, or dream of doing? (See #4 regarding the To Do list as an "in box"). Which one of those pops out at you right now as the most important? Alternatively, answer this question: What's the one thing that I've been putting off that would make the biggest positive difference in my life right now? So in the morning, before the day has quite started to come at you, sitting there quietly with your cup of coffee, you'll ask yourself: "What am I here to do? To Be? To have?" And you'll determine how your calendar reflects that right now.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
In his book The Hypomanic Edge, John Gartner suggests there is something uniquely American about the hypomanic experience. He offers illustrative historical figures such as Christopher columbus, Alexander Hamilton, and Andrew Carnegie as evidence that hypomania may be related to success, or some component of potential success and that it can actually be rewarded in certain organizations or systems or cultures. He's referring here to the risk-taking, slightly grandiose, euphoric feelings associated with hypomania. Others, too (e.g., Dr. Ronald Fieve
and Tom Wootton) have pointed to the impact of manic experience on productivity and creativity.
Patients who suffer with bipolar disorder are unlikely to see the "advantage" or benefit of the condition, but are likely to report that when they are hypomanic they enjoy a sense of well-being and a capacity to get things done. And it may take several cycles or crashes to fully appreciate that the highs come at a real cost.
Still, many have mused that they wish there were some way to enjoy the productivity and pace of the "moderate" hypomanic experience - before the sleep deprivation and disorganization kick in.
As reported in the journal Emotion, Pronin, Jacobs, & Wegner found that test subjects who are instructed in thought acceleration (reading quickly or brainstorming or even narrating a silent video in fast forward) report positive affect. For these test subjects, it feels better to think faster. Here's a .pdf of the article, and here's a summer in Boston Globe article . No clinical application is described, but the obvious hypothesis emerges: could the mildly depressed individual experience a subjective mood with some of these practices, either as part of therapy or as self-administered mood management?
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Awareness of key values and motivators,
Daily consideration of time stewardship, and
The Big 5 Self-Assessment, available for free download here , allows the user to consider one's awareness of these domains and commitment to taking good care of his or her physical and mental health. I'm hoping for feedback as I continue to sketch this out and consider clinical applications.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
A 2007 study by Shamay-Tsoory and colleagues, published in the journal Brain, suggests that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex may play an important role in the experience of gloating and envy. The ability to process these emotions may depend upon the cognitive ability to put oneself in another's shoes, to recognize that others have thoughts and feelings which differ from one's own. These are central aspects of the "theory of mind" , referring to a set of cognitive capacities which may be weaker among, for example, individuals with autistic spectrum disorders.
In a way, then, our capacity for schadenfreude is the "flip side" of our brains' capacity for empathy.
And we might not always be the one observing the suffering....recognizing that we may play a role in other people's experience of schadenfreude, the cast of Avenue Q remind us that "The world needs people like you and me who've been knocked around by fate. 'Cause when people see us, they don't want to be us, and that makes them feel great!"
Friday, January 2, 2009
- the leverage associated with creating a society of happier, more engaged people.
Former U.S. Senator from Rhode Island Claiborne Pell passed away yesterday. Under his leadership, thousands of students were able to access higher education through the Pell Grant. In fact it's because of grant and student loan programs that I'm able to do what truly makes me happy now.
...now if only they'd taught html classes when I was in school.....
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Also check out this SlideShare Presentation from his 11/08 "Thoughts on Happiness" conference presentation:
And a .pdf from his 1999 article regarding "the four qualities of life:"
And finally, thinking of Rotterdam reminds me of this video .....something that personally makes me happy.