Friday, July 13, 2007

The Happy Late Bird

Procrastinating is one of the worst things you can do, right? WRONG! Some of the most brilliant and productive people in the world are known procrastinators. Leonardo da Vinci was known as a renaissance man becuase of his ability to pursue multiple ideas and areas of inspiration. Historians have written that he was easily distracted and followed every burst of inspiration, whether or not it resulted in genius. Today he would be classified as a procrastinator, and thank goodness he was!

A Carleton University study found that nearly 70 percent of their student population said they procrastinate. But is this always as bad as it is portrayed in the media? Is there a way to harness our procrastinating into more positive and productive outlets? Can we define what areas of procrastination are helpful (creative outlets like writing, scrapbooking, etc.)?

The procrastinator is always aware of what areas he or she is avoiding. This means that goals are being set, if not always accomplished. Procrastinators are also able to compartmentalize. They know what areas are more or less important and they pursue that which they feel would be more fulfilling.

What are the benefits of procrastination? How can we procrastinate without guilt and will we ever understand why we procrastinate?

Something to think about...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Collective Joy

Barbara Ehrenrich wrote in her most recent work, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, "We are social beings, impelled almost instinctively to share our joy, and therefore able to envision, perhaps even create, a more peaceful future."

I would love to take the time to explore the theory of collective joy. There have been numerous studies that have found people are happier, more positive, more productive and more hopeful when part of a large group. During the holiday season, we face many group gatherings in a small period of time. Wouldn't it be wonderful to prove that people are happier in groups? This may even convince you to take part in all that the holiday's have to offer. Many people are discouraged by group gatherings, fearing they will be scrutinized, criticized or rejected. What they need to understand and appreciate is that the group setting can often give people a stronger sense of community, friendship, support and understanding, as well as happiness.

A few years ago, on the gorgeous island of the Bahamas, my family and I decided to venture over to the Atlantis Hotel for New Years Eve. I was fighting with my fiance, my two-year-old niece had just peed on me and I was feeling incredibly depressed. Suddenly the sound of distant drums beating piqued my interest. What happened next changed my understanding of human nature and our own emotional ability to be encouraged into a state of complete happiness. The Junkanoo street parade was travelling through the Atlantis hotel. People started to gather around, cheering on the dancing street performers in colorful and extravagent costumes. The celebratorial atmosphere, combined with the collective joy of the surrounding group, boosted my mood and caused me to recognize the happiness and excitement that was swirling all around me. It was a celebration of the holidays, of the New Year, of people united and of life. It was a declaration of the happiness of existence and the unexpected joys of life.

Hidden Treasures

Underground restaurants are becoming word-of-mouth hot spots.

No signs, no Zagat ratings and no codes to meet, underground restaurants are becoming modern day speakeasies for food lovers. They are hot spots that can only be found through word-of-mouth buzz and can only be accessed by invitation.

The idea of an unlicensed restaurant can leave many people running to the nearest T.G.I.Fridays, but for the more adventurous diners, a hidden restaurant can make their palates tingle. These establishments, most often run directly from the cook's kitchen, typically offer unique cuisine that isn't available in local restaurants.

The Ghetto Gourmet began as a unique dining experience in a basement apartment in Oakland, CA. They are now a well-regarded and well-established company that offers a private dining experience.

Digs Bistro was a monthly restaurant run by Jesse Kupers who billed his dinners as art shows with free food just to get around the legalities.

The trend is also spreading internationally. Hidden Kitchen is set in an apartment in Paris and Zingara Cucina is Australian-based with no fixed location and a menu that changes weekly.

This is an incredible shifting trend in the world of food. People are seeking authentic, comforting and uniting dining experiences not typically found in other establishments. A culinary adventure in their own neighborhood.

Blog Your Way to Happiness

According to research, writing about your daily experiences (both positive and negative) can help strengthen your immune system and lower your blood pressure. James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin found that journaling can be a very therapeutic way to handle your life. The question now turns to whether blogging about your life in a public medium can have the same therapeutic effect. It has been noted that many people find that the public aspect of a blog not only creates unity but also forces the blogger to make efforts to document the positives in their life.

Two thousand people were surveyed by to understand the phenomenon behind blogs and whether it is beneficial to your life. The study found that 85 percent of people writing a blog did it to express their inner thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental environment. Nearly half of the 2,000 people surveyed online found that a blog helped them get through life as it allowed them to relax and de-stress at the end of the day. It also pushed these bloggers to find something positive in their day-to-day activities.

Sidenote: Two bloggers met their husbands through their blogs, Stephanie Klein of GreekTragedy and Molly Wizenberg of Orangette