CategoryHappiness

The Power of We versus Me

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At the age of twenty, Art Unruh flew 50 missions into enemy territory in the European theater of World War II. The first six missions he served as a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. Protecting the B-17 from all threats behind the plane was a dangerous assignment, but it wasn’t the most dangerous – that belonged to the waist gunners. The waist gunner had to stand, which exposed them to more enemy fire. For the next 46 missions, Army Staff Sgt. Art Unruh served as a waste gunner, and...

In Search of the Good Life

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“Happiness is what you get right before you want more happiness.” – Don Draper, Mad Men As humans, we are not very good at predicting how future events will impact our life. We tend to overestimate the degree to which misfortune (divorce, loss of a job, death of a loved one) will set us back. However, when you talk with someone who has lived through such experiences, you’ll find they came through the ordeal intact. Humans have a tremendous capacity for adaptation. It’s a survival mechanism...

50 Days of Silence: Lessons from Adventurer Erling Kagge

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In the early 1990s, Erling Kagge completed the first unsupported solo expedition to the South Pole. He covered 815 miles in 50 days. During that time he had no radio contact and no support from the outside world. He was completely alone. What hit him the hardest was the silence. At first his mind was racing with thoughts and worries. He found the silence disturbing. “Everything seemed completely flat and white, kilometre after kilometre all the way to the horizon…Eventually, in...

If You Want to Succeed, First Define Success

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In 1934, an English teacher in South Bend, IN was discouraged by parents who complained when their son or daughter received a “C.”  It seems “C” was perfectly fine for their neighbor’s children, because it was average and the neighbor’s children were, of course, average. However, for their own children, a “C” was disappointing, and the parents would try to make the teacher and student feel like they had failed. The teacher didn’t feel this was right. He could see that...

What the Amish can Teach Us about Technology

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I had always understood the Amish to be a community that chose to live permanently in the technological past. That is, at a certain point in time, the community said “no more” to new technology.  From that point forward new technology was rejected out of hand. However, the Amish relationship to technology is more complicated. The author Kevin Kelly has written about this.  The Amish are constantly evolving with respect to technology. Thus, the Amish don’t use cars or bicycles for...

Leadership & Solitude: Scheduling Time to Think

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On August 11, 1984, the USA Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team faced off against Brazil for a gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics. The coach of the U.S. Team, Doug Beal, arrived at the arena hours before the match. Joining him was his assistant coach and best friend, Bill Neville. The players would arrive later, closer to game time. They walked into a mostly empty arena. In a few hours it would be a madhouse, but at the moment it was quiet. The two men sat in the empty stands. They reflected on...

10 Lessons from Benjamin Franklin on Wisdom

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The investor Mohnish Pabrai was having lunch with Warren Buffett, and he asked him, “if you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?” Buffett replied with a smile, “I’d love to have lunch with Sophia Loren.” But then he got serious and he said, “scratch that answer. I’d really like to have lunch with Isaac Newton.” Mohnish probed Buffett further and asked him “why Isaac Newton?” Buffett replied, “Isaac newton is probably the smartest guy who ever walked this earth. It...

Setting A Goal this Year? Make it a Process Goal

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Source: Reference-Dependent Preferences: Evidence from Marathon Runners It is the distribution of marathon finishing times collected from over 9 million runners. You might expect to see a smooth bell curve centered around the average time, but that is not what is depicted here. The general outline of the bell curve is evident, but it is punctuated with discrete spikes. At each major time interval, there is a peak of finishers followed by a lull. Anyone who has ever run a road race knows exactly...

The Man Who Beat Vegas & Wall Street

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Edward O. Thorp is not well-known outside of finance, but within the investment community he is revered like a rock star. Over two decades, Thorp recorded average annual returns of 19.1%, an incredible achievement. In his recent memoir, A Man for All Markets, Thorp tells his amazing life story, from a child of the depression through an early career as an academic and finally as a successful investor. Independent Thinking Early on Thorp developed a fiercely independent mind that guided his...

Good Leaders Promote Emotional Well-Being

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Things don’t make you happy, but experiences and relationships do. Highly productive people understand this and apply it in their own lives to maintain spiritual and emotional well-being. Great leaders also leverage this truth to create a positive culture and get the most out of their people. If you survey the happiness literature, one theme you’ll find is that happiness depends on one’s ability to accept the world for what it is, and to be content with what you have today. From the ancient...

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