Happiness Check List

I keep this list handy, so that when I find myself feeling down, I don’t have to think about what to do to get back up.  I often find that after doing just a couple of them, I’m already feeling better and ready to take on the world again.  See below for a video of a talk I gave presenting this list.
  • Listen to music – I love reggae, jazz, and ambient electronic (somafm.com)
  • Meaningful engagement with friends and family – I like to ask questions and let them tell me stories.  Light stuff, but intentional and meaningful.
  • Water – 1 liter+  At least a full glass as soon as I wake up and as often as I think about it during the day
  • Sleep – 7+ hours.  Melatonin and water at bedtime.  F.lux to get rid of blue light from computer screen
  • Green food / smoothie, preferably with friends
  • Meditation – I like to focus on my breath in the shower in the morning for 3-5 minutes
  • Small victory – Something small that I can complete in under an hour to feel like I’ve done something worthwhile
  • Help someone – strangers are the best.  Helping with groceries or just open a door.
  • Write – Writing forces me to collect my thoughts.  Privately in my journal or publicly on my blog
  • Group exercise – Getting a sweat where I can talk to other humans. Basket ball/hike/rugby
  • Yoga – close to meditation, given the breath work and mind focus, but adding a physical component
  • Read fiction – Fiction allows my brain to travel to another place.  Non-fiction tends to make me add things to my work todo list
  • Hug my dog – He doesn’t care at all about problems and is always eager to show me love
  • Guard myself from takers – Energy suckers can wait 48 hours until I’m up again.  When I am wounded, sick, and/or vulnerable I’m not interested in interacting with them
  • Create art – I love to paint, sculpt, and build stuff (usually with electronics or wood)
  • Hire help – Call for back up to get my house in order – laundry, cleaning, cooking
  • Intentionally smile and breathe – Just do it
  • Say good morning to strangers – Its nice and they almost always say it back.  When they don’t I have a reason to laugh AT them for being so fussy
  • Ask friends for help – That inner circle of 3-5 people that love you most.  Yeah, they want to know when you need them.  I’m not bothering them.  That’s what friends are for.
  • Reread The Four Agreements – 1) Be impeccable with your word 2) Don’t take things personal 3) Don’t make assumptions 4) Always do your best
  • Return to the Up folder – When my crazy isn’t acting up I like to save interesting and inspiring tidbits from around the web (articles, posts, videos, pictures).  When I’m in the pit of sorrow I have it right there to help.
Some of these things are habits.  Others are not.  But that is why the list is so good.  I can read it without having to think when I’m down to be able to get back on top.

Response to: How do you deal with disappointment and loss?

I broke my leg nearly 8 months ago.  Recalling the feelings of the moment, I can not recall ever being as disappointed as I was then.  I wrote about it (that was a good idea) and my family and friends helped me.

Writing this now, that seems like a place that is so far away.  I suppose it is and it isn’t.

In any event, things are definitely up.  Of course, pieces are still coming in to place as a result of the overall event, by my life has taken a turn that I could have never expected (more on that later) and my leg is nearly 100%.  The doctors said it would be a year, but last week I played a full game of regulation basketball.  I nearly fouled out, scored exactly zero times, and was pretty sore the following couple of days, but I was happy.  To be able to run was what was important.

Finally, over 100 people wrote to offer support, kernels of advice, and show me love.  It filled me up and I return to it again and again.

Below are a collection of of those nuggets in response to my question: How do you deal with disappointment and loss?

“I workout.

I remember what I do have in my life and what at I least was fortunate enough to have no matter how temporary it was.
I stay focused and work hard to be successful in my career.
I have a hobby that helps me relax.
I remind myself that I am a mentor to others. Even to some that I may not be aware they are watching me.
I listen to elders when they are sharing stories. There’s usually something there that I can file away –  knowledge.
I talk to strangers.
I remember good times and look forward to even better times.
I remember not to take everything so serious.
I think about what is really important.
I remember others feelings and not just my own (that’s easy to overlook).
I forgive.
I cry.
I laugh.
I love.
I live.

So there’s my two cents. If you remember anything at all that I’ve written, it’s this:

I do give a shit.”

“I can honestly say it never gets easier. There are going to be things that frustrate the shit out of you for the rest of your life, and some of those things are going to be way harder to deal with than not getting to enjoy the trip of a lifetime…All you can do is prepare for the next meaningful thing in life and maybe give back to the sport you loved by fueling someone else’s love for the game.”

“You’re surrounding yourself with supportive people, and the kind sorts, and I’m sure you’re trusting your instincts, and refining them as responses to adversity show you where your personal connections are misplaced, and where you didn’t realize there was so much love!

From my experience, LA’s a hard lady, and we’re sometimes drawn to the fun outgoing friendly-in-good-times crowds, but we discover that the kind people we forgot sometimes are the ones that really mattered…it’s those who admit their weaknesses who turn out to be the best and strongest in the end!

As Sir Winston once said: When you’re going through Hell, keep going!”

“From my experience, staying in hell is a choice. Once you decide you’ve had enough, you can choose to leave.”

“I know you. You are an “up” kind of guy. Honestly, that is not what makes you loveable. Your honesty and truth telling is what helps you connect to people. You, like all of us, are worth being cared about and not everyone has that capacity to care, and some do. Just keep telling people how you feel, really feel. You’ll find the ones that can accept you regardless of whether you are brilliant or stupid. It won’t matter to them. They will just care because you are worth being cared about. You don’t have to do anything for folks who really care, just be you, all of you. That’s what unconditional love is all about. I love you.”

“Be thankful for the 30 minutes against Canada, as you are going to remember it for a while.- If life didn’t deal us challenges and disappointments every now and then, we’d all be soft and useless.  What you lost by not going to Burning Man you made up for with growth of character, even if it doesn’t seem that way.- You’ve got your whole life to live!  Go enjoy it.  You can start by becoming a rugby coach or referee.”

“Read If by Rudyard Kipling”

“Say thank you (mentally) every time these thoughts come. Let them go, do not resist them. You can choose to be at peace in the middle of the situation.”

“I’m certain there are several gifts or diamonds with in the experience. Life is fast and ephemeral”

“Things happen for a reason and despite setbacks and failures, I think that’s an opportunity to learn from them.  Without those failures, you wouldn’t otherwise learn what success and happiness means.  I learned that and am grateful for the lessons and things I learn from disappointment.  I think you’ll reflect on this months later and realize that there were good things to be gotten from it (ie, you realize who your true friends are and who will be there during the tough times).  Anyway, hang in there and it’ll only go up from there!”

“Let me start by saying you’re right, that there is a lesson, that you must grow from this, and that there are things you can do differently.”

“None of this maybe relevant or worthwhile, but two quotes come to mind.  One is from a former yoga teacher: ‘no expectations, no regrets’, and the other is from Ray Liotta’s character in Blow: ‘when you’re up, its never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, it feels like you’re never going to be up again’.  Take these for however many grains of salt they’re worth to you.

I don’t know how much more i can say.  I guess we just have to keep our eyes open and our head on a swivel, and do our damnedest to not bemoan our station.

Life’s a funny fucking dog.  Keep your head up and your heart open.  I’m sending you good vibes.  Keep me updated on your progress.  I’d love to hear from you.  I’m on whatsapp if you’re inclined.  I love you, brother.”

“Hey douchebag…wanna come to aspen…I will cover room and flight.”















Stay close,