10 Steps to a Happier Life, Backed By Research

I haven’t posted in quite some time (and may not. Who knows?), but this seemed something worth sharing, saving and reading again.


I went through a number of great books on happiness and pulled together ten research-based tips that can help build a happier life:

1) Cut the small talk. Discuss what matters.

Via Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology:

First, happier participants spent more time talking to others, unsurprising finding given the social basis of happiness. Second, the extent of small talk was negatively associated with happiness. And third, the extent of substantive talk was positively associated with happiness. So, happy people are socially engaged with others, and this engagement entails matters of substance.

(For more on how to be someone people love to talk to, click here.)

2) Have at least 5 friends you can discuss your problems with.

Via Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life:

“National surveys find that when someone claims to have five or more friends with whom…

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27 Writers on Whether or Not to Get Your MFA

I know I need to be better about updating this site myself, but I’ve been very busy on other projects (re: writing a script, applying to grad school, and editing for AnimationForce.Tumblr.com, which you should check out).
I love hearing from authors and seeing glimpses into their crazy lives and personalities; maybe a few of you will also enjoy this read.

And for your information, I’m looking at an MFA in screenwriting. Thoughts?


Now that September is here and school is back in session, a writer’s thoughts turn to the eternal question: Is an MFA worth it? Ever since the publication of the Chad Harbach-edited anthology MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction earlier in the year, the perennial neurosis about whether or not an advanced degree in writing is worth it has become a progressively louder conversation. It’s one that we should be having, considering the explosion of the MFA in the past 40 years: from a mere 79 programs in 1979 to 854 today, according to Harbach. The MFA may even be having its moment — after all, the last shot of Girls Season 3 had Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath joyfully looking at her acceptance to Iowa. We checked in with some of our favorite writers from then and now to see what they think of the rise of the MFA.

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Ms. Graduate

Ms. Graduate

This month I graduated college! My mom and my brother (pictured) and many other family members came out to celebrate. Now that I’m out of college, I’ll have more time on my hands as I search for jobs and do some freelance work—in other words, I’ll be working on my blog again. Here we go.

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May 16, 2013 · 1:13 am

More swimming tickets were released

…and Hillary and I bought two for tomorrow night’s finals! We’re still sort of freaking out. You see, we woke up early this morning to head to Olympic Park to try to buy tickets for the prelims today. Between the huge crowds and the Olympic volunteers forcing you to keep moving forward—even if you don’t know where you’re going—we were glad we arrived with plenty of time to spare. By the time we reached the box office, we had asked at least five different people for directions. But although the box office had signs indicating they only took Visa, which I took as a sign indicating they sold tickets or sold anything at all, we were promptly told that you must purchase tickets online. And although you could purchase the no-show tickets after 30 mins, that purchase also had to be done inside Olympic Park. Which required another ticket simply to get into the park. Which had to be purchased online. Oh, the irony. With Hillary’s limited date plan, we found two tickets available through CoSports, but the website loaded slowly on her phone and the ticket purchase clock kept counting down.

Time for a new plan of action.

So we sprinted, or more of power walked as to avoid alarming mall security, to the nearest beacon of hope and free wifi: the Apple Store. Thankfully Westfield Mall is very close to Olympic Park, so a bit more of our near-sprinting found us in front of an iMac, completing our ticket order as quickly as possible. But these tickets were not for today’s prelim session, no. These are for tomorrow’s finals! We’re getting to see the 50 Free and 200 Breast final races, which are our respective events. This is such an incredible opportunity; I can’t wait for tomorrow evening.

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Tasty pasties and other good things

After all that bragging about going to London, I haven’t said much about my adventures here so far. Allow me to catch you up on a few things that I’ve learned and enjoyed.

A British family walks down the street, little girl waves a flag

On our way to see the Olympic Torch. (These people aren’t me.)

  1. I love the Tube. Traveling on the Underground is fantastic, in spite of the occasional overcrowding/weird smell/heat. The Oyster cards we bought allow us to easily get wherever we want to go in the city, and it’s great time for conversing with the group. I wish we had a metro system at home. Plus I just love imitating the announcer: “Mind the gap!”
  2. The food is different, but it’s not a bad sort of different. While we can’t find iced sweet tea, I’m quite fond of the hot tea here. Tesco, the grocery store down the street from us, is filled with all sorts of interesting foods. Becca and I especially enjoy the yogurt. I’ve also enjoyed some foods similar to home, with only slight though decidedly British differences, notably the strange condiment selections offered with burgers and “chips.” Mushy peas seem like a waste of perfectly good vegetables—why mash peas when they taste good as they are?—but I haven’t come across many other vegetables so far anyway. Pasties, on the other hand, are absolutely delicious. Flaky pastry with savory fillings like “cheese, tomato and basil” (with potatoes and onions, too) and “chicken mushroom.” I was so busy eating my pasty that I forgot to snap a picture!
  3. Almost everything about the Olympics is incredible. We’re watching women’s gymnastics on BBC as I write this, and I keep getting distracted by their amazing talent. Although I’m very excited for “the tight machine that is Team USA,” seeing so much excitement on the home turf for Team GB has made me quite sympathetic towards Great Britain. They have some lovely marketing campaigns for the Olympics as well. I’m also absolutely thrilled to be over here, to be surrounded by so many different cultures and to celebrate these athletes and the amazing countries they represent. Watching the Olympics on the BBC isn’t bad, either.
  4. It’s such a strange feeling to be able to visit all these London icons that I’ve seen so many times on the television. It’s surreal. I’ve stood near Big Ben a few times already, and it still hasn’t sunk in completely. I’m in awe a lot.
  5. The place we’re staying is absolutely adorable. I could live here forever. Except for the mouse that may or may not be eating our bread. He’s gotta go.
  6. I’ve been working on my British accent.
  7. John Wesley’s church was not what I expected it to be, but I am very glad that Hillary and Will and I got to visit this morning. It was a very cool experience, despite our rainy trek back to the nearest tube station.
  8. While my British accent isn’t really improving, my understanding of producing news packages is improving greatly. I’m also getting better at setting up the camera and tripod quickly, considering I was rather out of practice at the start of the summer. Our second news package is finally complete, and there are many more to come!

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I’m looking forward to London

I’m going to London. I’ll be there for the Olympics, with many of my classmates. While I’ve been to Europe twice before, I have never been to the UK, so I’m looking forward to a few things.

  1. The Olympics themselves. Of course. So many talented athletes in one place; so many countries coming together to celebrate their differences and their similarities and so on. I’ve been to plenty of professional sporting events, but never anything like this.
  2. People watching. It should be very interesting.
  3. Men in suits. My roommate told me there’s a bunch of them in England. I’m a fan.
  4. My class. I’ll be getting a lot of great journalism experience while in London through my summer class. It’s going to be awesome.
  5. I won’t have to pack when I get there, because I’ll already be packed! Not to mention that it’s easier to  (I hate packing. I’ve been putting it off as long as possible.)
  6. British culture. I get to experience new things, sightsee, explore the city, meet new people. Not to mention that I really love traveling.
  7. It’s been really hot at home. The London weather will be much cooler. In fact, you might say…

It's cardigan weather

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New Love

I feel like I’ve learned more about love this week than I have in the last 21 years of my life—and it seems like I’m learning everything the hard way. It’s probably more that I’m learning to apply things I already knew but somehow forgot when it came to putting love into action.

But being that this is a discussion that I don’t want to get into, and seeing as how unresolved so many things in my life are currently, let’s go a slightly different direction. Let’s talk about love in general. What does love mean to you? How does our Western culture shape your personal view of love? (Remember, I’m American. If by some bizarre chance you are reading this and come from a different culture, I’m very much interested in your opinion as well.)

The New Love Project

My friend Daniel just launched the preproduction portion of a documentary called The New Love Project. Besides being excited to see one of my friends move forward with something he’s passionate about, I am genuinely excited to see what he uncovers in his love-related research. I’m also thrilled to get to help promote this project on Facebook (hint, hint: check it out! It’s on Twitter, too!)

The most exciting part of this whole project is that you can get involved, too! That’s right! We’ve all seen your sappy or bitter or whatever kind of loving feeling posts you’ve written or reblogged or retweeted. We know what you dance to when you’re home alone. Ok, I don’t know any of those things, really, but it kind of just comes with the territory of being human and having an internet connection. Anyway, the cool thing is that you can share all your thoughts on the subject of love. The New Love Project website has plenty of prompts that make for great conversations with friends as well. But, uh, well, here. See for yourself. Watch the video. Visit the site. Share the love.

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