Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Chain of Distraction

I’m working on a presentation I’ll be giving in a few weeks, and I open my journal in Word to search for something funny Clay said that I wanted to include. I see a reference to a blog post I’d written a few months ago and it reminds me to check my blog. I see my latest post about the new book I recently finished reading, and I remember I need to update my Good Reads account. I have a new friend invite so I accept, and then check out what she’s reading. I notice a book called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a true story about a boy from Africa. I think how cool it is that the first African-American president has been elected, and it reminds me that I need to get a status on the health care reform bill. I check CNN for updates on the story and notice a headline about the new Google Wave and the buzz surrounding this "real time" communication tool and talks about how it will revolutionize email. I debate whether or not I will ever use it, since those in your "wave" can actually see you type your message. What if I type something not very nice on the fly as my friends watch me delete letter by letter. Not for me.

Then the article mentions a discussion about Google Wave on Twitter, which reminds me I haven't tweeted in over three hours. I go to my twitter account and see an interesting link one of my peeps posted to an article in the New Yorker. Five minutes into the article, I hear a ding and see that I’ve received a new email. It’s from A2Zshoes, the website that I inadvertently purchased a pair of fake Nike running shoes (no I had no idea they were fake until I watched a YouTube video that points out the slight differences. Do not buy shoes from this website). Unfortunately, despite what their website says, they don’t allow returns. So I check Ebay to see if I can sell them as "fakes" when I see that same pair of Nike running shoes going for half the retail price. Are they real? I'm not sure; probably not at that price. By this time my computer is really chugging, not smoking yet, but the multiple programs and windows simultaneously open are causing parts, I don't even know the name of, to overwork. Soon it becomes frozen and I have to restart.

Now I can’t remember what I was doing, so I check my FB account and notice that one of my friend’s is having a good day according to her status. So I click the “I like" that. I look at the clock and realize it’s time to pick up Judd from school.

In this day where distraction is imminent, I’m more and more convinced that some of the best tools one can develop are time management and focus.

Now back to work...

Monday, October 12, 2009

What makes us happy?

The results of a recent study showed that since 1972 women’s happiness levels have dropped. This may seem puzzling and even ironic since there are so many more opportunities for women now than there were 37 years ago, and since other studies have shown that men are taking a greater role in child rearing and housework.

The study showed that women are happier early on in their lives, but become sadder as they grow older. What factors are involved in this sudden drop in contentment? Is it the pressures on women to look young, sexy, and attractive all while juggling a career and child rearing - to be everything to everybody?

I just finished reading HALF THE SKY, an incredible, eye-opening book in which I'll blog about soon. The last chapter examines what influences our long-term happiness, and that social psychologists have found through multiple studies that our happiness isn't dependent on what good or bad things happen to us, like one would think. For example, if we happened to win the lottery we might feel a blip of happiness, but it would taper off. If we got hit by a car and became paraplegic, we'd find a drop in happiness, but then our happiness would resume to the levels in which they were before the accident. Most importantly, they point out that our happiness levels are directly tied to a "connection of something larger - a greater cause or humanitarian purpose."

I believe there are many reasons why women aren’t happy. There are too many distractions, pressures to perform as mothers and in careers, lack of appreciation for doing what really matters, and less quality time with those we love. But the biggest factor, I believe, is that we become so leashed to our daily activities that we forget that life is really bigger than us. It wasn’t until I became involved in a much bigger cause than just me, that I truly became the happiest person I’ve ever been. I still could give more, and when I have a noticeable drop in happiness, it's usually directly related to how long it has been since I've spent time giving to the cause.

In an age where we're bombarded with information and messages regarding what we think will make us happy, we often lose sight of who we really are and who we want to become. It is proven that an altruistic attitude is the best way to create a meaningful life full of lasting happiness.