Archive for January, 2013

This baby really did explode

I’ve been blessed with another grandson, my second, who arrived just before Thanksgiving.  I’ve become a bit gun-shy holding him due to his explosive colonic evacuations.  Today, though, I realized that being a babysitter could be a whole lot worse.  See what I mean by reading this New York Times obituary for nuclear scientist Donald Hornig.

In a small shed at the top of a 100-foot-tall steel tower deep in the New Mexico desert, Donald Hornig sat next to the world’s first atomic bomb in the late evening of July 15, 1945, reading a book of humorous essays. A storm raged, and he shuddered at each lightning flash.

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Hedonic adaptation-getting back to your happy place

While motoring down to a beach in southwest Florida 🙂 yesterday, I listened to this NPR interview of Sonja Lyubomirsky on her book “The Myths of Happiness”.  Evidently people have a natural ‘set point’—like a thermostat for mood—that helps them withstand terrible events and be happy again.  It’s called hedonic adaption.*  Sadly most folks suffer the flip side of this mood regulator: They finally get what they want, such as a coveted Christmas gift, but it does not make them any happier.

There is a nifty way around this—rather than gratifying your greed, do something for someone else.  It needn’t be much: Every little bit adds up to leading a happier life.

Such behavior is twice blest—good for the giver as well as the beneficiary.

“The pleasures associated with our own acts of consumption tend to be short-lived. The pleasures derived from doing something for others linger.”

– Excerpted from this 1/14/12 post on “Consumption Makes Us Sad? Science Says We Can Be Happy With Less” by Barry Schwartz of The Daily Beast.

*I dictated “hedonic adaptation blog” into my (supposedly) smart phone and it transcribed “add on a caterpillar engine block”—presumably thinking I meant to increase the horsepower in my road grader. Ha ha!


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