Sometimes I forget.

I get caught up in “This is the most important project I should be working on!” And I forget. And then things go downhill: my mood changes (I feel rotten, don’t want to be around people, get sad more often), my attitude changes (“everything sticnks”), my drive and motivation change.

And then, one morning, I wake up and say, “Hey! I haven’t exercised all week.” What kind of example is this to clients that I’ve worked with? Whenever I’ve worked with a coaching client, he/she has “homework” between each session: a Body Exercise as well as a Mind Exercise. Ask any effective coach: the best progress for a client happens between sessions. When people are focused on gradual, deliberate change (often in the same time at the same place: more on this below). There is something to be said for consistency in life. What we do each day is what we can see as results in hindsight.

That’s why exercise seems trivial, and at the same time, exercise can decrease depression, anxiety, and stress. Even more interestingly (!), not only can exercise make us healthier, but lack of exercise can make us feel depressed (I searched for the specific result I wanted [that not doing 30 min of exercise per day is linked with increased depression], and cannot find it right now, but will find it for you later and update here; the closest immediate result I found is that lack of exercise is the key between depression and cardiovascular disease).

Just last week, 2,000 adults polled in the UK turned out to not have been exercising enough. This article says that minimum exercise for adults is 30 min per day for five days. Others say 10,000 steps per day is a good metric of exercise. Still other fitness devotees say interval cardio three times a week for 20 minutes each time, and weight lifting three times a week for under an hour.

Whatever your choice of HOW is great as long as the choice is TO DO. I’ve just returned to my choice of TO DO. I cannot believe I dropped the ball on exercise.

Me who says it’s the second most important thing towards happiness here and here.

The last thought as I go back to the large project I’m working on is based on the research by Dr. Wendy Wood at Duke: a habit is something people do at the same time in the same place. Think of brushing your teeth: same time, same exact location. How can you make exercise a habit? For me, it’s running when I wake up, and running generally the same path, but with increasing the number of minutes each week. What’s your trick?

Great summer to you!
(Or winter if you’re in Oz or NZ). :)



My brother is so cool! He has done some research on music and the stock market: specifically does the volatility in the stock market react to beat-variance? Beat-variance is how much the beat in a specific song varies – are there slow parts and then fast part and differently paced parts?

He has made the most amazing music video ever:

I watched this ten times in a row. My two favorite videos on YouTube now are this Music and the Market and the Evolution of Dance. Enjoy!

Phil Maymin is a finance professor at NYU, and here is what SmartMoney had to say about this research:

Phil Maymin, an assistant professor of finance and risk engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, has crunched 50 years worth of stock-market data — along with more than 5,000 hit songs. And he says he’s found an inverse correlation between stock-market volatility and whether the hot music of the moment is frenetic or steady.

… What’s more, Maymin says that it appears as if musical tastes can predict future market volatility. A strategy based on predicting market volatility from past beat variance appears profitable, on average. “The model predicts that realized volatility next year will be lower than it was this year,” he says. Read more here.


Dalai LamaTibetan chuba dressI went to see the Dalai Lama on July 17, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in NY. It was completely packed, and the room has 5,933 seats. It seemed that about one third to half of the women, men, and children in the audience were dressed in Tibetan formal wear – beautiful attire in exquisite print.

I was sitting in a good seat, part-way to the front, and as soon as the Dalai Lama let us know that that he would be answering some audience questions, I thought that since I had read most of his book on happiness, I would love to hear his impromptu thoughts on what makes him happiest. So I wrote on a piece of paper a question in large capital letters and gave it to a man collecting questions near our aisle.

Dalai Lama happiness questionThen many, many pieces of paper were brought to the translator’s desk on the stage. I don’t know how many from about 6,000 people. It looked like a lot of pieces of paper, and I absolutely didn’t think my question would be answered, but eventually after the first two questions – one of which included a detailed answer to ‘who are the protesters outside the event?’ – my question did come up. It was the third question out of four, and it was really delightful to hear the Dalai Lama’s answer.

Here is the question: “What makes you happiest? What makes you the most happy?”

The Dalai Lama’s answer was first a joke along the lines of “I don’t know.” And then he answered: “People make me happiest.” He pointed to the audience and to himself, and said that he thinks this kind of interaction – people speaking to each other – makes him happiest. He said it is “only ‘I,’ not ‘we-them,’” implying that everyone – himself and the audience – are part of the same “I.”

Then he ran through several additional things that make him happiest:

• Sleep – He actually stayed on this topic for a few minutes, describing how he goes to bed around 7pm every evening, and wakes up at 3:30am to be able to meditate before a 5:30am breakfast. He even joked about how his brother makes fun of him for such an early wake-up.

• No dinner after lunch – The Dalai Lama was quite firm about how he enjoys not eating in the evening after the mid-day meal. He said, “It’s good. I don’t get fat like man who looks like woman with baby [pregnant woman].” He mentioned that he always feels very hungry when it is time to eat.

• Vegetarian preference – Finally, the Dalai Lama mentioned that he prefers a vegetarian diet, and that he was vegetarian in 1965 for 20 months, and that he is now mainly vegetarian.


There’s a group I used to visit a lot that’s stopped having discussions recently (the Happiness Group), and in that group, there were a lot of discussions of what Happiness is. FYI, here’s an overview of the group’s best hits (Favorite Posts 1 and Favorite Posts 2)

I know there’s a lot here – choose one or two to check out. I just wanted to get the phrases and the links out for reference and because they’re about a time and a place.

Here are some oldies but goodies about what people said:
Happiness Is … PLAY!
Happiness Is … Flow
Happiness Is … Learning from Adversity
Happiness Is … Endorphins
Happiness Is … Knowing It’ll Work out in the Endfun little one!

Happiness Is … Doing New Thingssee articles by me, Kathryn Britton, and Sherri Fisher
Happiness Is .. Exploring Every Axis (i.e., Expectations Management)
Happiness Is … Having a Tail

Happiness Is… Putting Things In Motion
Happiness is Memorable

Happiness Is… Knowing YOUR Boundaries

Happiness Is.. No Drama
Happiness Is… Listening to Your Body

Happiness Is … A Study
Happiness Is … Your Own Darn Behaviors
Happiness Is… Being Curious