Monday, March 25, 2013

Happify The Green Elephant

I don’t typically do product reviews. I also get a lot of emails asking if someone can place their advertising on our site The Green Elephant (dot) US; I usually send a short polite “NO” without a second thought.

My wife and I started on The Green Elephant to advocate for a change towards sustainability and we are not so much interested in making money or gaining a gazillion visitors just because we followed some fixed formula writing what people wanted to hear. So we write whatever we want, whenever we want. Our writings are scattered from cited educational pieces to rants and rambles at their best. Often times I inject my numinous appeals to a higher aesthetic order of things and invariably I use words loosely, inexactly, and without due consideration to the illusive categorical imperatives.

So our rants here are what we want to read to make us better people; and in the process, we hope that the few digital travelers who stumbled onto our blog can benefit from these loose ideas. So in the beginning there were words and in the end we hope there is something more.

However, our fast and loose writings have been plagued by lack of identity. This is in part because our topic—sustainability—is itself an amorphous idea; and in part, because we ourselves have not really identified what sustainability means to us. Sure if you ask us, we can give you the sermon of why it’s important to do something to make a better world for our tomorrow; but deep down, our intrinsic motivation stays private. Our inner balance heavily weighed against a world that cares very little because it must go on to business as usual. Thus in our fast and loose writings, we are plagued by an imbalance between what it is we want to achieve and the forces we discover along the way.

Recently, I was contact by someone from Happify. They asked if we wanted to participate in their experiment to help us control how happy we are. They found us through our blog and did not ask for a review of their doings. At first my wife and I are skeptical: here is another way to quantify and reduce the irreducible—here is another commercial attempt to make something out of the nefarious intentions. But I thought a second look is warranted because being happy is one of those things you just don’t say NO to.

So I signed up and did a bit of discovery. With my recent endeavors in law school, I’m not surprised to find that in terms of being happy, I’m categorized by Happify as “just getting by.”

Happify gave me a laundry list of things to do and a ready-made group to follow. Everything seems intuitive enough: be thankful, give a little, savor a bit of life that passes by so fast, and aspire to do more. I did my first exercise today: writing down three things that I’m thankful for. Obviously I am thankful for my wife and her constant support; but in the process I realized just how precious is her presence in my life and how much else is entirely arbitrary and depended on my relationship with her. So while the exercise itself was rather pointless because it’s yet another rigidified methodology reinforcing the categorical imperatives I so repel, but the exercise left me a bit more in terms of being aware of the numinous appeal I so desire to a higher aesthetic order of things: things like being in love, holding on to support, and aspiring to be a better person.

So I reluctantly linked my facebook account to Happify (normally I limit my facebook time to just living vicariously through my friends from across the world); and I am ready to accept and believe that YES, I can really train myself to become happier—to be more than just getting by.

Back to connecting the dot with The Green Elephant (dot) US. I realized that in searching for something that I desperately need, and in my wife’s quest to change the world, what we write is an extension of our quest. While the quest itself is isolated to aspirations, it must also incorporate giving, thanking, and savoring. My wife and I had talked about our aspirations with our blog during Earth Hour, when we were sitting in the dark and while we walked our dog along the streets; we wanted to find our identity with our blog. We want to discover what it is exactly we write for and why. We believe in doing so our writing will become slow and deliberate, no longer fast and loose; that we will find the next phase of our aspiration to achieve.

So we decided that it is balance we both seek. In our quest for balance then I seek to be happier in life. Living is, in its essence, the definition of sustainability and living sustainably means balancing effort with happiness. Any other way of living is simply as what I am doing so far: “just getting by.”

Did You Know? 40% of your happiness is within your control!

Happify translates the latest research into fun and interactive, science-based activities and games to teach you the skills of happiness. Optimism, self-confidence, gratitude, hope, compassion, purpose, empathy—these are all qualities that anyone can own.

You just have to learn how. And doing so will change your life.

And focusing on this will change the world. We believe. And it will change this blog.

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