It starts with changing the way you think

“Happy lives are not stress-free, nor does a stress-free life guarantee happiness.” — Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D, health psychologist

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Several months into the pandemic, in mid-August, I found myself having a rather stressful week. My husband was working overtime that week and was gone six days out of seven. I had a job interview in the middle of the week that failed miserably when my kids decided to pound their fists outside my bedroom door as if the house were on fire (apparently, you can only hide from your kids for about fifteen minutes), causing such a ruckus that I had to excuse myself twice to tell them to please let me finish the interview. …

Being kind requires more than just thought. It requires action.

“Empathy is an experience. Kindness is an action.” — Jamil Zaki, Stanford psychologist

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Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Twenty one years before I read the novel, and many years prior to that, the author Catherine Ryan Hyde experienced something so profound, so unexpected that inspired her to write a story about a little boy who changed the world. She recounted her story in the following video.

When she was 24 years old, Catherine found herself stranded in a dangerous part of town. Her car broke down and then caught on fire. Out of nowhere, two strangers appeared, but her instincts told her otherwise. …

Turns out, expressing daily gratitude actually works

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Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

October 26th was a special anniversary for me — not to anyone else, just me — because it marked a full 30 days of writing down my gratitude daily in a journal, which I kept on my nightstand as a reminder to myself to do the activity. And what I learned during the past month of writing down what I’m thankful for has been transformative.

The act of outwardly expressing gratitude has long been studied — for example, this landmark study by Barbara Fredrickson at the University of Michigan on the effect of positive emotions proves that when you recognize positive emotions, you see more possibilities in life. …

New Netflix documentary showcases wisdom that can be gained from the world of sports

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Image courtesy of The New Yorker

“I’m not gonna coach you to who you are. I’m gonna coach you to who you should be someday.”

These are the words of the former Boston Celtics coach, Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers, who led the team to multiple NBA championships during his reign from 2004 to 2013, then later as the coach for the Los Angeles Clippers. Named as the most successful coach in Clippers history, according to the NBA, Doc was featured on the first episode of a recently debuted documentary series on Netflix called The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules for Life.

In an interview that was as deep and intimate as a romantic relationship, he relayed all the things that he learned from his time as a professional basketball player and later, as a coach. I was amazed at just how much I learned from him (and will definitely watch the next few episodes) about what playing sports can teach you about life. …

What we can all learn from one of the most prominent men in comedy

“Are you afraid of death?” said a little preadolescent voice.

The man’s eyes grew large, alarmed. He pauses for a moment before answering, “Yes.”

Both are tucked in bed, at a summer vacation home in New Hampshire, the scene of a 1991 Bill Murray film called What About Bob?

What the children’s book author can teach us about life

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Image courtesy of Berkeleyside

Todd Parr entered my life when my son and daughter was three and six, respectively. Almost every night for the past year and a half, my children would dutifully pick out one of his many books (40+ so far!), and together we’d read aloud together.

His books are fun, bright, and quirky. Upon first glance, you might say that the illustrations and words are the works of a child — but it’s all Todd. …

Want to teach your kid important lessons? Instead of TV, try reading these books to them instead

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Image courtesy of the New York Times

“Who did I forget to thank Gerald?!?”

This famous line towards the end of “The Thank You Book” by Mo Willems makes me laugh every time I read it with my kids. The Thank You Book is about two best friends — an elephant and a pig, aptly named Gerald and Piggie, who goes on adventures, or perhaps everyday experiences and learns about things like sharing, being thankful, playing nice, being kind, and so forth. The Thank You Book epitomizes the importance of being thankful for everyone in your life and expressing it by saying, “Thank you.”

That’s why Piggie decided at the beginning of the book to go around and thank each and every character from their world. It wasn’t until more than halfway through she realizes that she has forgotten to thank Gerald, her best friend, for being her best friend. But Gerald responds with, “No Piggie. You forgot to thank our reader.” The book ends with the two smiling brightly on the page, “Thank you reader. We could not be ‘us’ without you.” …

Morgan Housel’s new book focuses on stories about money, not tips

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Here’s a common advice I hear a lot when it comes to spending.

If you see something that you really like, put it in your basket (online or in person) then abandon your basket for several days. Give yourself time to think about the purchase. If you’re still thinking about it several days later, then go ahead and buy it. And if you’re in a physical store, just leave it.

I love this kind of advice because it has prevented me from buying so many things that I think I need but doesn’t actually need. They’re simply wants. Most of the time, I’d forget about the items unless the website sends me an email reminding me of my unattended basket. …

Ten things I’ve learned from the past few months of developing a new habit

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Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, and a speaker, once said in this article, “New goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do. And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process. It is a series of habits.”

Bad habits are easy to form and hard to eliminate. I experienced it firsthand a few years ago, when I wrote about my attempt at losing weight here. At the time, I was in my mid-thirties with two children, and never completely lost the weight I gained with my second baby. …

The 50/30/20 rule, the rule of 10%, and other numbers-oriented mechanisms for measuring one’s value

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Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

In his book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell discussed a concept called the Inverted U-curve — the idea that once a person reaches a certain threshold, say, income level, (around $75,000), the upward curve flattens out. This is otherwise known as the concept of diminishing returns. Psychologically speaking, once you reach that level that you’ve been striving for, you adjust your expectations — both within yourself and the environment you’ve built for yourself — to correlate with your “new” lifestyle.

Suddenly, it’s no longer appropriate to drive a ten-year-old Honda (because you’ve made it! You deserve it!); now it’s more appropriate to buy a new Toyota Prius, both because you want to be environmentally friendly, as if it’s a new trend, and also because you want to be part of an elite group of members who drive Priuses. …


Hoang Samuelson

Drinks too much coffee and writes about business, culture, parenting and personal finance. More writing here

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