I have blogged about happiness several times in the past.
One of my more recent mental wanderings led to me and several others to wonder whether one can consciously and conscientiously choose to do things that will make you happier. Shawn Achor argues that we can with these six exercises (I have no evidence other than my own experiences and those of others around me to know how valid these are). My own comments and reactions follow each item.
1. Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you're grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. They don't have to be profound. It could be a really good cup of coffee or the warmth of a sunny day.
I don't actually write these things down, but I probably do something like this most days in my mind. Gratitude has played a major role in my own sense of happiness. And those who knew the late Greg Mate will recall his daily posts of gratitude on Facebook that he began writing upon learning he had terminal cancer; they were terrifically inspiring.
2. The Doubler. Take one positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.
This suggestion intrigues me. I don't know that I've done it consciously, and I will now be trying, once again in my mind but not on paper, to do this more overtly. In many respects, many of my postings to Facebook and here on this blog fall into these first two categories.
3. The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.
Back in a dark period of my life, people kept suggesting things like this. I'm not convinced they worked, but I do try to have some kind of fun physical action nearly every day. And sometimes it's less fun, e.g. doing the stairs instead of taking the elevator to check the mail.
4. Meditation. Every day take two minutes to stop whatever you're doing and concentrate on breathing. Even a short mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.
I really struggle with this one. I try to stop, but my mind quickly wanders. I guess it takes more work/effort than I'm willing to put out.
5. Conscious act of kindness. At the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good.
Please don't include me if you do this. It sounds fake, and if it comes off as an exercise you're doing for yourself, it won't seem all that sincere to the others.
However, a couple of decades ago, I realized that the people who seemed happier were the ones who said nice things to and about others. I realized the causation could go in either direction, but I started doing things like this and stopped being as grouchy and as critical as I had been. It seems to help. Yes, there are still plenty of times when I grouse and criticize, but I keep more of them to myself more often and work through them more effectively.
6. Deepen Social Connections. Spend time with family and friends. Our social connections are one of the best predictors for success and health, and even life expectancy.
Does Facebook count? Does theatre count? Do musical groups count? Those connections are rarely very deep, but they do lead to other connections that are deeper.
There is a Time piece that purports to estimate how much time individuals have "wasted" on Facebook since joining it. It assumes that each posting to one's timeline takes about 17 minutes, on average, and the search algorithm totals the number of postings made (not the amount of time surfing, reading, and messaging!).
By their count, I have posted over 14,600 items to my Facebook feed since I joined it over eight years ago [a rough average of more than four items posted per day!]. By their estimate, I have wasted 35 days and 10 hours posting items on Facebook. Of course this is a very rough estimate. In my case it is likely a gross underestimate of the time I have "wasted" [or spent!] on Facebook. But here are some reasonable qualifications:
My actor/director/producer friend, Kerry Hishon nominated me for this award. She writes an excellent blog about theatre, mostly, as well as other aspects of her life. It is one of the very few blogs to which I subscribe. Her blog posts inspired me to post my "Theatre Briefs" as blog post entries. Thanks for the nomination, Kerry!
I've been writing EclectEcon for nearly ten years. I owe its origin primarily to Tyler Cowen and Craig Newmark, both of whom encouraged me and helped me in the early days of writing the blog. Through blogging I have met some very good friends over the past decade [e.g., see this] and learned so much more than I would have otherwise.
My life has changed, and so has the content of the blog. But I still enjoy sharing my views, reactions, analyses, and perspectives here.
It is with great pleasure that I accept Kerry's nomination, but it is with some hesitation that I nominate others. Here are the rules for those nominated (I hasten to add that I see no reason for those I nominate to obey any or all of these rules):
Seven Facts about me:
Blogs I nominate:
I don't read blogs nearly as avidly as I used to, but here are the ones that I continue to read regularly or semi-regularly. I nominate these:
Friends and regular readers of EclectEcon have noticed that up until a few days ago, my blog postings and Facebook activity seemed considerably diminished. Aside from a few "likes" and "shares" I didn't post much on Facebook; in fact I didn't even keep up with all the status updates. And the blog postings were generally rare and brief.
They're right. A month ago, we went to Houston to visit our son and his family. While we were there, we both noticed some symptoms of illness (and are grateful that our granddaughters don't seem to have caught this), especially tiredness. Since our return we have both been quite ill. We had symptoms that seemed like H1N1 flu initially, but according to our family physician, this viral flu (whatever it was) morphed into a bacterial infection. The first bout of antibiotics didn't do the job, so she prescribed some stronger ones.
We seem to have improved health now, but it has been an exhausting period. Ms. Eclectic has a persistent cough, I have clogged eustachian tubes, and we are both tired almost all the time. Really tired. There have been times when I wanted to post things, but just didn't have the energy to think about them deeply enough or to search for appropriate links. We have rarely left our home, and every time we do we go out, we have been extremely exhausted afterward. We managed to get out to do some shopping yesterday, but are done-in now.
We seem to be on the mend, though. Apologies to all whose emails have gone unanswered or been answered with terse remarks.
And to all my friends on Facebook, please do not comment on this. I want people to know, which is why I'm posting this, and I appreciate your implied well-wishes. Thanks.
P.S.: may the person who invented "peel and push" blister packs for medication burn in hell.
Some years ago, in an attempt to generate traffic to the blog, I posted links and subject lines to attract the attention of people who were looking for photos from the "Nude Women of Curling" calendar. [see here, here, and here, for example].
It worked. Traffic to the blog is up this week during the Olympic curling, and about half the traffic seems to be from people searching for nude photos of female curlers.
When I saw the traffic was up, I was hoping it was because people were interested in my views on economics or on higher education or something in my recent posts.
And traffic at the curling blog is high, too, despite the fact that I haven't posted anything there for a long time. Same reason.
Apparently sex sells (as if we didn't already know that).
We're on our way to Houston, where our younger son (Adam Smith Palmer) and his family live. We're looking forward to seeing them again. And we are really going to appreciate the warm(er) weather. It's about +5F going up to +8F with windchills below zero F here. There it is +46 going up to +54F with forecasts for pleasant +66F this weekend.
Blogging and social media actively may slack off a bit while I'm away.
I tell people I'm under 90 but also am pleased to be immature young-at-heart, too. I didn't like all the choices available in this quiz. I suspect it was compiled by some smart aleck who has no idea what it's like be over 50 (and still under 90). But the first time I took it, the results said I'm 35. Yeah, sure.
So I took it again, giving slightly different answers for those questions where I'd been ambivalent. 35 again.
Third try, 27 going on 45 with this comment:
The only thing you like better than going to bed very early is proclaiming to the world that you are going to bed very early. Because you are old.
Overall pretty stupid.
The subject line of this blog post is a well-known punchline/joke, knowingly and often repeated among actors. We are a self-centred lot.
Here is some further evidence (as if more were needed). Remember those Theatre Briefs I posted during the past few months? [The index to them is here] Guess which one gets by far the most traffic.
The one with suggestions about how to write your biography for the programme. Yes, we want to be better actors, but we also want to know how to present ourselves to others.
I will be attending the Summit with journalist credentials and in that capacity will be able to interview these two speakers (and others) while I am there. What should I ask them? Here are some ideas I now have, but I don't know how deep we can get or how much time I will have. I am eagrely searching for other suggestions.
I welcome your suggestions/refinements either via email or in the comments.
My attendance at the summit is supported by several sponsors, including the Department of Economics at The University of Regina.
Let's face it. Not many people are good prognosticators. In fact most of us do not even bother trying to imagine what the world will be like in 20 years. But in this article, Paul Krugman explains why most economits' predictions are wrong. My explanation for why most economists' predictions are wrong includes the following:
Here are some predictions Paul Krugman made back in 1998:
The lesson to be learned? Economists are not much good at predicting the future .... and if we were, we'd do it rather than write about it.
* Productivity will drop sharply this year. Nineteen ninety-seven, which was a very good year for worker productivity, has led many pundits to conclude that the great technology-led boom has begun. They are wrong. Last year will prove to have been a blip, just like 1992.
* Inflation will be back. Wages are rising at almost 5 percent annually, and the underlying growth of productivity is probably only 1.5 percent or less. Sooner or later, companies will have to start raising prices. In 1999 inflation will probably be more than 3 percent; with only moderate bad luck--say, a drop in the dollar--it could easily top 4 percent. Sell bonds!
* Within two or three years, the current mood of American triumphalism--our belief that we have pulled economically and technologically ahead of the rest of the world--will evaporate. All it will take is a few technological setbacks or a mild recession here while Europe or Japan recovers a bit.
* The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in "Metcalfe's law"--which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants--becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's.
* As the rate of technological change in computing slows, the number of jobs for IT specialists will decelerate, then actually turn down; ten years from now, the phrase information economy will sound silly.
* Sometime in the next 20 years, maybe sooner, there will be another '70s-style raw-material crunch: a disruption of oil supplies, a sharp run-up in agricultural prices, or both. And suddenly people will remember that we are still living in the material world and that natural resources matter.
There was an uptick in traffic to The EclectEcon recently. I looked to see what it was, and saw there was considerable traffic sent here from a blog posting at Bloomberg.com. And what article was cited there? A strange one that told about a prof at Columbia who linked sex and the US invasion of Iraq.
In such a strategy, Iraqis are posited by American super-masculine fighter-bomber pilots as women and feminised men to be penetrated by the missiles and bombs ejected from American warplanes.
I'd even forgotten about that posting, but it must have stuck in someone's mind (actually it was pretty high on the Google search list).
I am a
"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."
Shows what kind of mood I was in when I did that survey. But so many of the questions had answers that didn't quite suit me; or in some cases there was more than one answer that came close. So I retook the survey and got this answer:
I am a
And the site's description of me this time?
"You stand up for what you believe in, even if it gets in the way of what other people think. You are proud of yourself and your accomplishments and you enjoy letting people know that."
I guess. After all, I do put a lot of stuff on Facebook.
at least it didn't call me a thistle!
I keep receiving requests from people to connect with them via Linked In or Schooldays or whatever it is. I have no idea why I should or what the value of doing so might be... to them or to me. If I might have been a classmate, okay, I'll connect via Schooldays even if I don't have the foggiest idea of who you might be. But if I get a Linked-in request from someone I don't know, I just ignore it. Either way, I must say, I don't see the point of these versions of social media.
But maybe I'm wrong. Long-time readers of EclectEcon may remember that Scoop tried to encourage me to join Facebook, and I wouldn't do it until he created a Facebook group encouraging me to join and managed to find 50 people to join that group. After several months he, Rondi, and Erin, succeeded and I joined.
At the time I wrote,
Now that I have joined Facebook, I have a sense of alone-ness. Nobody from my high school or undergraduate graduating classes is a member of Facebook. Nobody from my present hometown is a member of Facebook. That says a lot about both my age and about the demographic market for Facebook.
That was over five years ago. Since then things have changed considerably. Many, many more people are FB members. I have become increasingly active on Facebook. I have many friends there from all over creation based on my having taught and lived in so many places and having been involved in many different aspects of the arts, economics, and blogging. Through Facebook I keep in touch with former students with whom I'd almost surely have lost touch without FB. And I've renewed friendships with grade school and high school friends, as well as a couple of relatives. I love it.
My granddaughter and I had a contest last summer to see who was more addicted to Facebook. She won, but barely. Also, it is clear that posting links and comments on Facebook has replaced some of my blogging.
So maybe there is something to these other groups like Linked-in and SkoolDaze. But if so, what is it??
And does anyone really use Google+?
It went by without my noticing, but sometime a week or two ago, EclectEcon (combined with its earlier manifestations) reached a million page views. I realize that probably half the page views are directed to the blog by Google searches for nude curlers or crotch shots of Britney Spears or maybe even the infamous Danish cartoons. But at least some visitors have some interest in what I have written.
Imagine the traffic if I had continued posting two or more items/day!
Blog postings have been sparse at times lately. Here, in a nutshell, is why:
I expect that as I adjust to these changes, the blog postings will become more regular.
TypePad has changed things again. And now it seems to take about 5 seconds for this blog to load, no matter which browser I use. Does anyone have any suggestions? I notice that other TypePad-hosted blogs don't seem to have this problem, so I'm wondering what it might be on this blog that is causing the lag.
Once again we have noticed a dramatic increase in traffic to this blog and to Curling, where I co-blog with Alan Adamson. With a few seconds of checking, we discovered that the higher traffic is not to read our brilliant insights, but is from people searching for the "Nude Women of Curling Calendar". Our friend, John Chilton, has sent us several recent links that mention the calendar; I guess the mention of the calendar elsewhere helps explain the sudden spurt of interest in the calendar and the searches that have led people to our sites.
We appreciate the traffic and the interest, and we appreciate the searches that people have made to find this artful work. At the same time, we hope all our visitors will look around and re-visit us for other reasons, too.
EclectEcon is being profiled in the weekly posting about bloggers on NormBlog. While that profile probably tells more about me than it should, which questions I chose to answer was probably also revealing.
Coincidentally, my fifth anniversary of blogging occurred this week, too (first posting on November 4, 2004).
I do not quite understand the selection criteria or the ranking criteria for this listing but I'm pleased to see that EclectEcon is listed 9th among economics blogs by educators, ahead of Robert Reich, Gary Becker-Richard Posner, and Paul Krugman, among others.
Unfortunately there are several important omissions from their list. Among the omissions are:
I don't know how Richard Posner reads and writes as much as he does. But he does so much and does it so well.
Recently, Posner began another blog in addition to his original blog that he co-authors with Gary Becker. His latest blog, sponsored by The Atlantic, is called "A Failure of Capitalism", the same as the title of his book published this past spring by Harvard Press and about the financial crisis and the 2008ff recession in the United States.
In his most recent posting, Posner criticizes Paul Krugman's unabashed support for more gubmnt intervention in the market for health care, referring to Krugman as a "born again Keynesian". Posner's criticism is that the debate has created considerable uncertainty and that this uncertainty has caused people not only to save but to hoard liquidity, thus prolonging and deepening the recession. Let me add that this criticism applies to much of the Democrat and Obama agenda for increasing involvement of the gubmnt in the economy. Here is the conclusion from this posting:
Initially the concern was with the macroeconomic implications of adding some $100 billion a year to the federal deficit (an underestimate, in my view, because it ignores the increase in demand for medical services by tens of millions of persons who will have health insurance for the first time, which will reduce the marginal cost of medical services to them). The concern became so acute that focus shifted to measures for financing the program so that it would not add to the deficit. But when this happened, businesses and individuals alike began asking: what part of the cost of the new program will I bear? And this question injects a new and very major source of uncertainty into the economic environment. Small businessmen are worrying about the added cost to them if they are required to insure their employees, and individuals are wondering whether their cost of health insurance will rise. Most people do have health insurance and most of those who do are more or less satisfied with it; anyway better the devil you know than the devil you don't know.
Prudent businessmen and prudent individuals alike have thus been given an additional motive for hoarding cash rather than investing and consuming. No one knows how his financial situation will be affected by health reform, if it is is enacted. There is enormous and I think justified distrust of the government's ability to design and execute so ambitious a program as the Administration and the congressional leadership envisage.
One might think that this would give a born-again Keynesian macroeconomist like Paul Krugman pause. But not only does he say nothing about the effect of the debate over health reform on uncertainty and through it on the economic situation, even though he is pessimistic about the situation; he provides no analysis of the likely costs of health reform, and the incidence of those costs on particular groups in the society. He does nothing to allay the uncertainty that the debate over health reform has engendered.
My only concern about this particular blog is that it seems designed to plug his book. Not that I think his book shouldn't be plugged; in fact, I bought the book as soon as it was advertised.
After more than a month away from blogging while I traveled and did other things, I'm home now. It will take some time before the blog posts come at a regular pace, but at least they will restart soon. Thanks to everyone for your patience.
With apologies to all and with thanks to the regular readers who have asked if I'm okay, the answer is that I'm fine. I'm just taking a break from blogging while I'm teaching in England. There is much to blog about, but I'm just not finding the time to do it while I'm here this time.
See this. For what it's worth, that's a higher ranking than the UWO economics department....(see the previous posting, just below this one).
My friend, Rondi Adamson, has a blog that is listed 7th on a list of the top 15 right-wing blogs in Canada. EclectEcon didn't even make the list.
It is difficult to be a right-wing blogger when one is a libertarian and vehemently opposes most social conservative policies.
Alan Adamson is a fascinating person. It is a joy to know him and to co-blog with him intermittently at Curling. Alan is the blogger profiled this week on Normblog.