Gratitude

I’ve been told by several important sources that expressing gratitude can improve one’s happiness baseline. However per my usual ways, I haven’t sorted out where to write these gratitudes. A private online journal? A paper journal (dreadful)? A file on my computer? Where do you write your gratitudes?

Vacations and happiness

A few years ago I visited Kauai, Hawaii on a vacation with a boyfriend. I was pleased with life: happy to be in a relationship, happy to travel with someone, and happy to be away from the office. The photo below shows my vacation strategy.

  • Take photos of every rainbow
  • Smile like a goof
  • Wear tacky, comfortable Hawaiian shirts
  • Let my hair fly in every direction

I have spent a lot of time thinking about happiness. Can ever be a constant, or is it just one of those things that comes and goes? Can I be happy in the office, working, under a deadline? Can I be happy when I’m old and gray? Do I need a vacation, with rainbows and balmy weather, to be happy? Do I need the wind in my hair and the sun in my eyes?

I have more questions than answers, but I found this book on the subject by Alex Korb to be fascinating and insightful:
https://www.amazon.com/Upward-Spiral-Neuroscience-Reverse-Depression/dp/1626251207

This shorter (and free) article does a mostly good job of summarizing:
http://time.com/4042834/neuroscience-happy-rituals/

According to the Time article, there are four habits that will improve happiness: be thankful; label emotions; make decisions; and optimize touch.

Being thankful and expressing gratitude seems both the easiest, and the most surprising. I’m enthusiastic to do this; you may seem posts expressing what I’m grateful for in my blog.

Labelling emotions also seems easy. Hangry. Done! If I had a dollar for every time hunger ruined my mood, I’d be a millionaire. I recently started carrying around Clif bars. Oatmeal raisin walnut is my jam.

Decisions are a little harder. I have decided I want to publish a novel. I even have 46,000 words written. But getting it published is something else entirely. That task is not 100% within my control. I’m working on breaking it down into achievable steps that are within my control.

Touch also seems a bit out of one’s control, but okay sure, I’ll make sure to get it where I can. Firm handshakes, enthusiastic hugs, massages, the works.

The article seems to overlook two key ideas that were prominent in Alex Korb’s book: get good sleep, and exercise. Why didn’t the article highlight these two items? Is it because sleeping well and exercising are notoriously pesky habits to achieve? Speaking as an insomniac who avoids the gym, I think it’s harder to sell sleep and exercise. Regardless, I am going to try all the ideas from the book, including the hard ones.

Happiness takes work. Though we can’t be happy all the time, and circumstances are what they are, I think choices have a large influence. Happiness is not an island vacation. It’s a journey of an entirely different sort.

Extra-kick mushroom asparagus curry soup

The hexadecimal color of today’s mushroom asparagus curry soup is #5e2300.

Spicy, but you can handle it.

Ingredients:

  1. Maybe 1 cup of water
  2. Maybe 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  3. Maybe 1/2 cup of veggie broth
  4. Maybe 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  5. About 2/3 a container of white button mushrooms
  6. Green onion bunch – I could’ve used two bunches
  7. A handful of bean sprouts
  8. Two tablespoons of red curry paste
  9. One teaspoon of chili oil
  10. Two tablespoons of crushed garlic
  11. Asparagus bunch
  12. 2 baby bok choy, 3 if you feel like it
  13. A tablespoon of salt

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Start a medium heat on the water.
  2. Add broth parts.
  3. Shake in some soy sauce. Soup’s a little brown at this point.
  4. Toss in the bean sprouts.
  5. Toss in the mushrooms (I buy them pre-sliced, but slice ’em if you prefer).
  6. Slice up the green onions and toss them in. I probably could’ve used two bunches.
  7. I use crushed garlic from a jar. Add two tablespoons from a jar, or 4 crushed cloves.
  8. Add two tablespoons of red curry paste and one teaspoon of chili oil.
  9. Soup’s reddish brown at this point! And nearly to a boil.
  10. While that’s working its way to a boil, chop the asparagus bunch in three parts. Toss in all the pieces *except* for the heads.
  11. Quickly chop the bok choy. Toss the white parts in, save the leaves for last.
  12. TASTE SOUP RIGOROUSLY! But be careful, it has kick. Add more soy sauce & water if it’s too spicy; add more chili oil if you want more kick.
  13. Add about a tablespoon of salt (or skip this step – YMMV).
  14. I prefer a balance with more curry and only a tiny bit of chili oil.
  15. At the very last minute, throw in the bok choy leaves and the heads of the asparagus.
  16. Boil it for maybe two more minutes.

TAH DAH!

This will serve two fairly hungry people. Or one insane lady.

The secret to feet happiness

So lately I’ve been running more and more frequently, most often with a coworker (Edwina) but also with a friend (@shoutingboy) who runs with Team in Training. In order to get past three miles without blisters, I needed a better set of socks/shoes/inserts.

Here’s the new formula:

  • WrightSock Anti Blister Double Layer Coolmesh Quarter Sock
  • Tuli’s Heavy Duty Heel Cup (great if you have flat feet or fallen arches)
  • New Balance 587B sneakers (designed for flat feet/pronating feet)
  • Russel Athletic sweatpants (this doesn’t help the feet, but they do make good jogging pants)

So far so good!

Last Saturday I ran 3.6 miles with no issues, 3 again on Monday, 3 again on Tuesday.