What can the French teach you about happiness?
A survey of 12,000 French and American adults found that, on average, the French spend significantly more time eating. Americans spend more time deciding what to eat than enjoying their food. According to co-author of the study, Harvard professor Ashley Whillans, the time the French spend enjoying their meals directly translates into the happiness they experience over the course of their lives. Anything you can do to remind yourself to value your time, to be present in the moment, and to savor pleasant experiences—especially experiences you share with others—will go a long way toward improving your overall happiness and wellbeing. Mindful of the preciousness of your time, my mission with The 5-Minute Recharge is to give you as much evidence-based yet tasty food for thought (and action) as I can pack into a short weekly newsletter. Let’s get started! ONE ACTIVE QUOTE “Come back to the experience of being a child, of just running around the block because it feels good, not because there is a goal or an expectation or a desire to change, but to honor who you are.” – Jessamyn Stanley, from The Happiness Lab podcast episode, “Move More, But for the Right Reasons.” ONE TRUTHFUL IMAGE
Feigang Fei doesn't much care for his orange beef. Fei's restaurant Cuisine AuntDai in downtown Montreal has an usually honest menu that has attracted worldwide attention. Could it be because Fei's humility seems to say we're all trying our best during the pandemic and sometimes falling short? THREE IDEAS #1 Mission Impossible From Roger Bannister to Albert Einstein to Rosa Parks, we mark humanity’s progress by the people and events that made the impossible possible. You may have experienced the impossible in your own life as you built a business or performed athletic, intellectual, or artistic feats beyond what you thought was possible for you. In his new book The Art of Impossible, author Steven Kotler shares a 4-ingredient cognitive recipe for achieving the impossible: motivation, learning, creativity, and flow, with flow playing a starring role. You enter a flow state when you lose yourself in what you’re doing, your inner critic is silenced, and your sense of time is altered—either slowing down or speeding up. People who have a lot of flow in their lives tend to have off-the-charts life satisfaction and wellbeing. At this point you may be wondering, “Where do I sign up for some of this life-enhancing flow?” Kotler identifies 22 triggers, but you can dramatically increase your chances of flow if you get sufficient sleep and physical activity, enhance your ability to focus through meditation, and reduce your technological distractions (see idea #2). “What is the biological formula for the impossible? The answer is flow.” – Steven Kotler #2. WWW Too often, attention that we could be directing toward getting into a flow state, savoring delicious food or connecting with others is being stolen away by our devices. Fortunately, Catherine How to Break Up With Your Phone Price has a three-part www cue to make you more intentional about how you use technology. Before picking up your smartphone ask yourself: What for? What are you using your phone to do? Are you checking email, diving into Instagram or checking the weather? Why now? Is there an emotion such as boredom or anxiety driving you to your device? What else? What is the opportunity cost of what you’re planning to do? Often the cost is social when we ignore physical people sitting next to us in favor of digital people, but we could also be missing out on any number of other activities that might better support our wellbeing. Although not beginning with a “w,” perhaps the most important question we should ask of our technology is: How do I feel after I use it? (Which brings us to idea #3...) “If you wanted to invent a device that could rewire our minds; if you wanted to create a society of people who were perpetually distracted, isolated, and overtired; if you wanted to weaken our memories and damage our capacity for focus and deep thought; if you wanted to reduce empathy, encourage self-absorption, and redraw the lines of social etiquette, you'd likely end up with a smartphone.” - Catherine Price from How to Break Up With Your Phone #3 Working for the 'Gram According to a study conducted by market research company Morning Consult, 86 percent of people aged 13 to 38 would like to become, not a doctor, an astronaut or an athlete, but a social media influencer. In the HBO documentary Fake Famous, director Nick Bilton, using paid followers, paid likes and comments, and fake photo shoots, selects three people with small social media followings and attempts to turn them into influencers. After downloading Instagram so that he could monitor the progress of his fake influencers, Bilton noticed that, even though he was tech savvy and knew that most of the world he was viewing was fake, it was making him feel uncharacteristically “bummed out” as if his life was boring compared to the glamorous lives presented on Instagram. If social comparison can affect a guy like Nick Bilton who knows how the Instagram sausage is made, imagine what it's doing to the rest of us, especially young people who believe an influencer is actually a celebrity sipping champagne on a private jet when in reality she's an infomercial host living an exhausting lifestyle posing in someone's bedroom with a $12 Amazon toilet seat. “Influencer culture is designed to make you feel like sh*t.” – Nick Bilton *********************************** THE FAST FIVE 1. The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship - The Atlantic (Don't you miss the people you kinda know?) 2. Working from bed: 'I don't even have to get dressed'- BBC News (It trains your brain to associate your bed with work rather than sleep, and immobilizes your body for hours on end which fires up a slow burn of inflammation that damages tissues in your arteries, muscles, liver, brain and other organs. Other than that, working from bed is great! ) 3. Why swearing is a sign of intelligence, helps manage pain and more - CNN Health (*&%^!) 4. There are Two Kinds of Happy People The Atlantic (Should you pursue pleasure or virtue?) 5. This Is Not a Joke: The Cost of Being Humorless - Insights by Stanford Business (Humor makes you look more confident, even if your–appropriate!–joke falls flat.) *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE: MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK “Your mindset, and how you think about possibility in your life, can affect your ability to be alert when opportunity occurs.” - Christian Busch This week's 5-Minute Recharge challenge comes to you from Christian Busch of the London School of Economics who notes that many of the world's leading minds have a capacity, often unconscious, to turn the unexpected into something positive like Post-Its, X-Rays, microwaves or love. Developing a 'serendipity mindset' that enables you to spot opportunities is something you can train in yourself, but first you need to do some mental decluttering so that you can be open and alert to the unexpected. Set a timer for two minutes and list in two columns the parts of your most recent workday that worked really well for you and the parts of the day that were inefficient, stressful or unfulfilling. Do you notice any patterns in the positive and negative parts of your day? Sometimes it's the small things that deplete you the most and get in the way of making your own luck. When you discover a negative pattern, clean it up if you can by stopping the behavior, delegating or hiring someone to do it for you. “Journalling and reflection is a way to begin decluttering your life, to explore the areas that take you out of being present, and keep you from recognizing serendipity.” – Christian Busch, London School of Economics Wishing you much serendipity in the days ahead, Lynne Everatt, The 5-Minute Recharge