Tag Archives: New Year’s

Your Weekend Homework: The Return to Happiness

As we approach the end of 2020, many of us are looking forward–like never before in the history of time–to turning that calendar to a new page and a new year. Readers of the Washington Post were recently surveyed and wrote, 2020 has been exhausting, relentless, and heartbreaking. Let’s put 2020 behind us and never look back (other than to remind ourselves of mistakes we shouldn’t make again).

In honor of turning the calendar to 2021, I’m working on an Op-Ed piece titled “The Return to Happiness.” The point of the piece is to acknowledge how good it is to move on, but also discuss the nature of New Year’s resolutions and how to make resolutions that have a reasonable chance of being accomplished. In the end, I’ll be making a pitch for everyone to sign up for my University of Montana course “The Art & Science of Happiness.” Well, not everyone, but anyone who wants to have a cool online “university” experience that provides an opportunity to test out the best, evidence-based, approaches to happiness on planet earth.

The course starts in January, and, for the first time ever, will be offered to “community” participants as a non-credit experience. This means EVERYONE can sign up. The catch is that it costs $150. But if you do the math, that’s only $10/week or about $3.50 an hour to discuss, learn, experiment with, and establish new happiness habits for 2021.

Here’s a description of the course:

Over the past 20 years, research on happiness has flourished. Due to the natural interest that most Americans have for happiness, research findings (and unfounded rumors) have been distributed worldwide. Every day, happiness is promoted via online blogs, newspaper and magazine articles, Twitter posts, Instagram videos, TikTok, and through many other media and social media venues. Ironically, instead of increases in national happiness, most epidemiological research indicates that all across the U.S., children, adolescents, adults, and seniors are experiencing less happiness, more depression, and higher suicide rates. To help sort out scientific reality from unsubstantiated rumors, in this course, we will describe, discuss, and experience the art and science of happiness. We will define happiness, read a popular happiness book, examine scientific research studies, try out research experiments in class, engage in extended happiness lab assignments, and use published instruments to measure our own happiness and well-being. Overall, we will focus on how happiness and well-being are manifest in the physical, cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, spiritual/cultural, behavioral, and contextual dimensions of our lives.

Other things to know: If you take the course as a community, non-credit, participant, you won’t take the quizzes, or get graded, and assignments will be optional. However, you will be asked to participate in small group lab sessions designed to give you (and others) a chance to talk and listen to each other as you experience and experiment with specific happiness assignments.

If you’re interested, you can register at this link: https://www.campusce.net/umextended/course/course.aspx?C=627&pc=13&mc=&sc

If you know friends who could use a happiness boost for 2021, share this post with them. And if you’ve got questions, you know where to find me.

Have a fantastic weekend.

My 2020 New Year’s Resolutions – Part 1

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This year, for the first time in recorded history, my New Year’s resolutions are experiencing a well-earned deferral.

I should note that me deferring my New Year’s resolutions has nothing to do with procrastination, bone spurs, sexual indiscretions in the oval office, impeachment, or my inability to construct a sentence that doesn’t include irreverent sarcasm. Instead, the deferral is about my recent epiphany: Making resolutions during the first week of January is an act of great folly!

I’d explain the rationale underlying my epiphany, but like many procrastination rationalizations, I’m still working on it. Actually, that’s not true—I’ve already worked out the rationale—but I’m still working on a full-length article describing why it’s pure foolishness to set aspirational goals on New Year’s Day, along with how and when you should set your goals if you want to be successful. This particular blog post (the one you’re reading now) flows from my sneaky effort to get your anticipation building.

Think about this: I’m giving you permission to wait on your New Year’s resolutions. You should make no resolutions until you’ve read the full-length article. Said differently, I’m giving you permission to procrastinate! Now can you feel the anticipation building?

By the way, if you happen to have advice on where to submit said article, please immediately share your ideas with me. Don’t wait on that. Given that my success in submitting snarky op-ed pieces is small and shrinking like a 21st century glacier, I need your help now.

As a partial spoiler, I’d like to share three things.

  1. I’m seriously contemplating punctuality as one of my New Year’s resolutions.
  2. The working title of my upcoming New Year’s masterpiece on goal-setting is: Don’t Wait: Why You Should Start Rethinking Your New Year’s Resolutions Right Now
  3. The opening paragraph of the draft of my article starts like this:

There’s an old Tom Cheney New Yorker cartoon that features a guy in a cap standing on a street corner next to a paper shredding machine. There’s a sign leaning on his shredder that reads,

Shred Your

New Year’s Resolutions

50 cents

That’s enough for now.

Like I said, just wait, let the anticipation build, and while you’re waiting—and procrastinating—be sure to take time to feel good about the waiting.