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Happiness Lessons from 10-Year-Olds

I want to share a documentary with you today.

This 2003 award-winning documentary, titled “Children Full of Life”, is about a rather unusual 4th grade classroom in Kanazawa, Japan.

Here is how the film starts:

On the first day of school, Mr. Toshiro Kanamori asked this question to his 4th grade class: “What’s the most important thing this year? What are we here for?”

“To be HAPPY!” the 10-year-olds shouted in unison.

Are you surprised?

I was.

I’ve been in classrooms both here in the US and back in China, from K-12, to college, to graduate school, no teacher has ever taught me that the most important thing in a classroom or in life is to be happy.

I’m going to bet most of you haven’t either, which is why the classroom in this documentary is so unique. [continue...]

10 Reasons to Be Grateful, Plus An Awesome Video

A pair of roses and an American flag sit on top of a September 11, 2001 memorial panel

Photo credit: Getty Images

Today is 9/11. My heart and prayers go out to those who lost someone on that fateful day eleven years ago.

I’m extremely grateful that I didn’t lose anyone that day, nor do I know anyone who lost someone. But on 9/11 of every year, I’m reminded of how fragile things can be, and how life as we know it can change in a matter of minutes, even seconds.

This day, more so than Thanksgiving, reminds me to take a moment and be grateful, for family and friends, for my health, for the abundance in my life, for the random acts of kindness from strangers, for clean air, water…

I wish I could say that I practice gratitude every day, but the truth is, life gets busy, and things come up, so there are days when I just can’t muster up the energy or the optimism to find things to be grateful for.

I know you have those days too.

But did you know that those are precisely the days when we need to practice gratitude the most?

Here are 10 reasons why gratitude is the shortest, most direct route to happiness and/or peace.
[continue...]

How To Be Happy

Wood Sign with the Words "Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness"I had an interesting revelation about happiness while I was creating a smart playlist in iTunes the other day.

If you haven’t used the smart playlist feature, try it. It’s pretty nifty. Instead of adding songs manually, you simply specify a few criteria like the artist, album, or genre, and iTunes automatically creates a playlist of songs for you.

Or at least it was supposed to work like that.

I entered all of my criteria into iTunes, and hit the OK button, fully expecting a list of songs to pop up, but nothing happened. The song list came up empty.

I looked over the criteria I entered over and over again, and I couldn’t understand why the feature wasn’t working properly. And then I saw this:

iTunes Smart Playlist Settings

It turns out that the issue wasn’t with the way I was defining my criteria; the issue was with the way I was structuring my conditional statement.

Instead of creating a list of songs that matched any of the criteria I selected, I inadvertently asked iTunes to create a list of songs that matched all of my criteria.

So what’s the connection to the pursuit of happiness you ask?

Everything. :-) [continue...]