Blog Transition

Dear Friends,

I’m finally transitioning all the content of this blog to its domain http://theultimateanswer.org

Please, read new posts at new location! Last weekend I summarized all feedback on the happiness formula from independent testers and already scheduled its publishing. Check it out!

Have a happy version of reality!

Marina 🙂

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Shared Wisdom and Resources

I’ve been looking for websites about happiness and self-improvement. Those who seek shall find. While I was sitting at Peet’s Coffee&Tea  in Santa Monica I noticed a man next to me creating an elaborated chart, looking like a fishbone in Corel which reminded me  a cause – effect tool from my consulting life. I asked him what it was. Charles told me that he is working  on the website Keys to self-motivation. He just started this website and the fishbone is one of his ideas to be posted soon. As Charles explained he has 20 years of experience in construction and he saw many men floating through life like lost boats, living day by day without having concrete goals not only career-wise but in other aspects of their life. So the fishbone is to create more structure and direct people where they want to go. Charles’ wife also has a website Detox Vortex, it is about living healthy.

We had a very interesting discussion and shared our knowledge on the topic. One of the websites Charles suggested is Self-growth. The site has numerous resources for those who have the time and interest to learn different techniques. We both appreciate Steve Pavlina blog, which has thousands of great posts (it’s been around since 2004).

I told Charles about his potential competitor My life list and about Daily feats, a site that suggests good deeds for you and gives you points for completing them.

A friend recommended to me a site about how to get over difficult time in one’s life Out of stress. Through I’m happy project I connected with Rachel, who has a website Undercurrent coaching. I mentioned before Ricky’s site Life long happiness. Subscribe to blogs you like, find inspiring quotes about life, love and helping others. Visit Quote Garden.

If you are very depressed and want help, try Depression Support Help and Psychology Info. I recently found National Empowerment Center (NEC) website. There are many depression and suicide prevention organizations… Just type the words “depression help”… and there will be a list to choose from.

What I recommend the most is…  go and volunteer… You will learn everything in comparison: your pain, their pain, the world’s pain. You’ll see how making other people happy will make you feel. Don’t expect to get anything in return for your help to others. Just do it. Ad you will see the difference soon… “One must really have suffered oneself to help others” ~Mother Teresa.

If you want to start your own project and need fundraising or want to invest into somebody’s project, check out Crowdrise, Kiva, Profounder, Kickstarter and Donorchoose.

There are lots of interesting meet-ups about how to become happy. One of them is run by Dr. Amy Coget in San Francisco. I never met Amy but her positive attitude is contagious. She runs The San Francisco Happiness Club.

This year on the International happiness day, July 10, she created Smile Mob Event: “We will be giving away free smiles and free hugs too!  If you wanted more happiness in your life and to celebrate your own and others happiness then join us at the SF Happiness Club.  After participating in a smile mob this past week, I guarantee you will gain a great happiness boost!”

And finally, there will be another group testing of the happiness formula in Cambridge, MA on Aug 10 at 7 PM in Algiers Café in Harvard Square. All participants will be able to try the latest version of the tool,  create their own happiness formula, help others to increase their happiness and provide feedback. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Great Life Happiness Manual

I met Ricky a couple of days ago at “I’m happy project” meet-up in Santa Monica. I learned about his website, which I studied thoroughly and I found a lot of great quotes, posts,  audio and video material. This one is my favorite:

It reminded this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI. The lyrics are taken from a famous essay — written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune — which gives some amazing advice for life, highly recommend everyone to watch the video or read this http://tinyurl.com/schmich-sunscreen!

Live Group Testing of the Happiness Tool in Boston

In spite of rain, four people showed up for the testing last Wednesday: two men and two women. I only knew one person out of four, the rest were from I’m Happy Project Meet-up group.

We met in the courtyard of the Boston Public Library, which has a beautiful fountain. I briefly gave an overview of the project. It is interesting that one of the attendees was a Sociology professor who is going to write a book about happiness. After I distributed the forms to the attendees and explained the rules, we moved to one of the rooms in the library and the participants took seats at different tables. The point was to simulate isolated environment and be anonymous as if we were home completing forms online, not next to other humans present.  

After participants completed the forms anonymously they dropped them in the bag and I rated the forms via the tool I have in Excel and wrote their ratios of happiness on the forms. While I was rating, participants formulated two questions about their obstacles to happiness and wrote them down (also anonymously) on the second form. We rotated the question forms between 4 tables, and everyone had a chance to answer other people’s questions and got answers to their own questions. They also recorded their high and low points… of the day (or of their life as of today). The whole exercise took about one hour.

 
At the end we briefly discussed the session. Participants felt that their ratios were about right. And it turned out that everyone enjoyed writing answers for others even more than receiving answers to their own questions… And one person mentioned “I felt closer to you than before, even though we are strangers… As if we are close friends, we shared very important things with each others.”

There will be two more live sessions in San Fran and LA over next two weeks, I will also summarize feedback from individual testers in other posts. Thank you to all testers!

 

 

A Graduation Speech

I received an invitation to my 5 year graduate school reunion. What I remember the most about my graduation is the graduation speech and not by some honorary guests, but by a student. I went to school part-time and at the graduation ceremony I hardly knew anyone because the majority of grads were from the full-time program. It was my first graduation in the States and I felt both excited and scared, because I had no idea about – what is next? Back then sitting among 900 graduates I had fear of not finding a job, never mind finding a great job. I still don’t know who that student was, but I remember what he said.

The speech was about some person: after the war he was a graduate student in anthropology and worked as a journalist at the city News Bureau of Chicago, then he worked in public relations and was a technical writer for General Electric, later a volunteer fire-fighter, teacher at the University of Iowa Writer’s workshop, and a manager at the first Saab dealership established in the US…  

I was thinking: “Who could be so scattered and unfocused?” To my amazement, it was my favorite writer Kurt Vonnegut, the author of one of the best American novels of the 20th century “Slaughterhouse Five”.

The speech continued and its main message was to not be afraid of not finding your passion, you just need to try different things and stay true to yourself, and then you will eventually find your calling, as Kurt Vonnegut did by becoming a writer.  That graduation speech gave me hope.  

Kurt Vonnegut passed away 10 months later at the age of 84. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.  Vonnegut considered humanism to be a modern-day form of free thought, and advocated it in various writings, speeches and interviews. In 1992, the American Humanist Association named him the Humanist of the Year. In a letter to AHA members, Vonnegut wrote: “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead.”

Kurt Vonnegut is my inspiration and his books helped me to stay positive even during difficult times in my life. His contagious black humor and compassion for imperfect humans made my life better. Here are some of my favorite quotes from his books:

“I was a victim of a series of accidents, as we all are”

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center”

“If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind”

“The bounties of space, of infinite outwardness, were three: empty heroics, low comedy, and pointless death”

“When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everyone. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much”

“The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody would be to not be used for anything by anybody. Thank you for using me, even though I didn’t want to be used by anybody”

“I found me a place where I can do good without doing any harm, and I can see I’m doing good, and them I’m doing food for know I’m doing it, and they love me, Unk, as best they can. I found me a home”

“The Earthlings behaved at all times as though there were a big eye in the sky—as though that big eye were ravenous for entertainment”

“New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become”

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved”

International Happiness Day is on July 10

I just found out about this website and International Happiness Day, which was proposed back in 2008 by a person from Portugal. On the website you can find a letter to the UN to promote Happiness and Peace on Earth. They will need 50 mln signatures. It is a cool idea and I put my signature on it. Check it out for yourself.
Hello,  

My name is sign now! and I live in sign now!. I recently found out about International Happiness Day on July 10th. I am writing to you because I see the importance of commemorating this worthy cause world wide.
Over the years we have come to take cause in the fundamental human experiences beyond technology and economics and have noticed there was an overlooking of important concepts like the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. We have Dr. Robert Muller, Former Assistant Secretary General for the United Nations, who saw the importance of holding a worldwide environmental conference. We also so the with the UN supported universities of Peace.
As the environment becomes more of a concern and our need for peace on Earth starts getting attention, it is imperative for our world to embrace simple human experiences such as happiness and love.
By acknowledging and supporting the cause of International Happiness day, it would help me know that happiness is my birthright and I was born here, that happiness is a state of being that starts with a choice to be happy!
It is your duty as my UN representative to take my request serious and know that as other countries have forged forward with their own happiness emphasis, i.e. Bhutan and Gross National Happiness, other countries are making headway as well. The reason why happiness is so important to me and everyone I know is because of all of the great benefits that come with it, such as better health.
By commemorating this July 10th, 2011 as an International Happiness day, I as a global citizen will practice gratitude, love, joy, optimism and forgiveness at each and every opportunity. Please embrace and support this initiative, it could be the greatest day our planet has ever experienced!

All my best in happiness,

sign now!

Purpose+Passion=

Those, who don’t have the time for a whole week of audio course about Life of Purpose or don’t have the money to do Tony Robbins training, which I was told costs about 10K, but still want to learn about purpose and how to apply it to their lives, should try for free what I did last year at the Strategic Volunteering Workshop. It works!

It was one of those Mondays when you don’t want to get out of your bed, especially when you are not employed. I still made an effort and took the train to Downtown Crossing to attend Strategic Volunteering workshop at the Work Place.  I didn’t have any expectations, just signed up because I truly believe in volunteer work, to me  it means not giving something away but sharing and enriching ourselves and the world around us. I was curious to see what others have to say about strategic volunteering.

The instructor Mark McCurdy, also Founder and President of The Nonprofit Career Coach, delivered an interesting presentation to 10 participants. Main idea was to follow your heart, find what you love to do and focus on it… You would say that we all know this concept as it was mentioned in many philosophical schools, religions and books like The Alchemist and The Monk who sold his Ferrari, etc. True, but the twist is that you apply this concept to volunteering, meaning – not necessary leaving your current day-time job and switching to something else right away.

Volunteering is a way to connect you with your passion, which at the end may lead you to your perfect job you just don’t know how to find yet … As often we have one idea of what we want to do but in reality it may become  something different. As Tony Robbins said “Sometimes you need to lose your dreams to find your destiny”.

I also liked how Mark explained the process of finding what you love to do and implementing it, that is how to connect several elements which are  Passion+Purpose+Strategic Volunteering +Focus

Very often we only focus on passion or purpose but never connect both, never mind applying them to reality by doing volunteer work or seriously focusing on it. So here is what I got out of this workshop:

What is your passion/favorite hobby/interest or what are you good at? I like to ask questions and connect to people through conversation/story, also I’m interested in volunteering.

What community/population do you like to serve? To help unhappy lost people.  Because I was depressed myself in the past, I want to help unhappy people.

How do you think you combine the two into strategic volunteering?  Besides doing this blog and telling about volunteering, I may want to reach out to whole communities of depressed people and write newsletters for them about ways to get involved in volunteer work,  create workshops and events for them.

Focus on what you defined – narrow your goal and be consistent… I spoke to Mark that instead of general population I should focus on non-profits and groups that support communities of depressed people/victims of depression. Mark mentioned that “Collaboration is King” (not cash anymore). He also suggested doing video/audio interviews of volunteers/non-profits for http://nptimes.com/, which is almost like TV show about volunteering world. All I have to do is to focus on these ideas and act upon them – be proactive and reach out to those organizations/communities and create samples of my work.

Imagine that you were at the same workshop, what would you come up with? How many people do you know who decided to do something they are very passionate about even though it was not their profession and they became very successful by eventually pursuing it?

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