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I’m currently reading The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. Unlike previous personal development books that I’ve read, this one is penned not by a spiritual leader but by a social psychologist. Blending New Age principles with scientific study, Lyubomirsky shows that up to 40% of our happiness can be controlled by our own thoughts and perceptions.

I’ll post a more-detailed book review in the near future, but one of the most intriguing studies Lyubomirsky and her colleagues discovered is that the more someone wrote about his or her future in a positive light, the happier that person will become. By spending only 20 minutes each day over the course of several weeks you can improve your happiness simply by jotting down your fantasies or dreams.

Having said that, I recommend that all who read this should, as part of one’s daily routine, jot down your ideal future. Your notes could be in a journal, a notepad, or even in a blog (hey look at me!). If we aim at positive well-being and an enlightened mindset, we might just hit it.


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100_7172_time_square.jpgLee Abbamonte wrote an insightful piece on the supposed rudeness-friendliness dichotomy of the New York attitude. Some people—and Lee is one of them—will argue that New Yorkers are just about the rudest people on the planet, while others will cite the countless instances of New Yorkers helping out-of-towners with directions and navigating through the Big Apple. Not too fast, Lee says; New Yorkers are willing to give directions because they revel in their cosmopolitan Manhattan-ism while tourists bathe in awe of Gotham. Giving directions is a sense of proving yourself as a New Yorker—using street-names and landmarks is akin to name-dropping in L.A.

Now I’m technically not a New Yorker but I have commuted here for the better part of seven years, so I kind of know what Lee is talking about. New Yorkers are rude, especially during rush hour. Do not stand in the way of a latte-armed, suit-dressed executive while he or she is plowing through turnstiles to get to the 1 train. Unless you like being ignored, do not try to ask anyone anything between the hours of 7 to 9am and 5 to 7pm. Rush hour is the New York equivalent of the seventh circle of hell. I am ninety-nine percent certain that the New York rude attitude is caused by the madness of the rush hour commute.

This, of course, is destiny at work when you have millions of people cramming to board a tiny island five out of seven days of the week. And if they do happen to live in Manhattan, chances are they are forced to board the subway, an efficient but cramped transportation system that at best smells like dirty laundry and at worst, well…you can imagine. Take a New Yorker out of the busyness of the workday and you will discover a friendlier attitude. Go to Central Park and immerse yourself in its depths—you’ll be surprised you’re still in nation’s largest city. Talk to the people there—you’ll find them more willing to chat than on Broadway and Forty-second Street.

Do New Yorkers revel in giving directions? Absolutely. They’re proud of their city and it shows. I can’t argue that the locals like to drop fifth-avenue this and Madison-avenue that because they’re well aware of their city’s world-famous iconography and are proud of it. Just don’t ask how to get to Carnegie Hall while standing in the middle of Grand Central at eight in the morning.

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Two Dreams

I had two dreams last night.

In the first one, I was employed as a doctor in a nondescript emergency room. A patient was rolled in on a gurney because he was experiencing a heart attack. I moved to attend to him. As I pushed the wheeled gurney, the patient spilled out and fell face-first on the floor. I bent down and propped him up, only to notice that half of his belly was still stuck on the floor and his innards were falling out. Seeing the dreadful and very dead patient, I collapsed on the floor, crying uncontrollably. The last thing I remember before I woke up was my boss, who was wearing a white coat (apparently he was also a doctor), staring at me, without expression or emotion.

I can’t remember the second dream as vividly as the first. Melissa and I were somewhere—I think it was a casino—when this bully dude started harassing us. He slung insults at Melissa and I and urged me on. Not wanting to escalate the confrontation any further, we both left. Next thing I knew, we’re at the end of a hotel corridor and in the distance by the lobby’s desk I saw him again. I realized that I was going to have to face him eventually, so I decided on a surprise attack. When he was distracted, I leapt at him. We wrestled. We both landed a couple of punches on each other. The bully dude was bigger so I expected to go down hard but the fight ended with a stalemate. Then I woke up.

I can only hypothesize as to what both dreams mean. I think the first expresses how I tend to take things too personally. It also could explain a feeling I have that everything I touch falls apart. My boss’s appearance could represent a judgmental figure. He could be evaluating how I handle myself in tough situations. The second dream probably means I need to overcome difficult, even seemingly insurmountable, obstacles to achieve my goals and self-respect. I originally didn’t confront the bully dude because I was afraid to cause a scene and didn’t want to lose. Once I realized the bully dude wasn’t going away, I managed to muster the courage to challenge his bravado. The fighting proved difficult but I learned the bully dude wasn’t insurmountable as I originally thought to be.
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