I have no idea how to answer this question on my psychology midterm (Part 1)

Have you ever played Binky’s Facts and Opinions? It’s a game that teaches players the difference between what’s true and what’s not. Here, let’s play together. Look at at this question from my Positive Psychology™ midterm, and tell me if it’s a fact, or opinion, that one of these things decreases happiness.*

Yeah, I could have read the text. But that wouldn’t have solved the bigger issue here: why are we being asked about matters of subjectivity on an exam about psychology, which is supposed to be scientific?

I picked religion. Not because I believe religion decreases happiness, but because I had absolutely no idea how to answer this question. It seemed like the obvious answer since it’s easy to harp on religion. Everyone and their grandpa can form a half-baked paraphrase of Marx’s, “opiate of the masses.”

So I picked religion, and got the question wrong.

If I had to take this exam again, I’d pick marriage. Because way too many people wear shirts like this…

…,and I’ve heard way too many deadbeat comedians make jokes about how horrible it is to find the 1 person out of 8 billion who give them more than the time of day.

If I had to take this exam a third time, I’d pick education. Because I’m definitely not happy. I’m confused as to what it is exactly that this question is testing me on.

Oh, yeah, and children? What? — Really?

If you want to know what the correct answer is, you’ll need to wait until October 30th.


*On a separate exam, I was asked about the different ways of getting information. One of the ways we get information is from figures of authority. According to “the lecture and text”, either marriage, children, religion, or education decreases happiness. Go figure.

Little blue postcards: 1 million random acts of kindness

It’s good to feel good. It’s even better when other people feel good with you. All the happiest moments of my life share one thing in common: somebody else was smiling with me.

Goodnote is a newsletter, a movement, really, started by my buddy Jamie Russo. When I listened to Jamie talk to me about his goal to bring smiles to 1 million faces, I knew he was up to something remarkable.

For every $1 raised, Jamie sends a postcard to someone in need. Smiles shipped at scale.

The world will be a better place with a million hands holding these little blue postcards.

Jamie sends you two cards: one with a personalized message, and one left blank. Fill that one out and send it to someone special.

Get your Goodnote by clicking here.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #15 – John Daub on Hard Work, Happiness, and The Spirit of Fun

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

I’ve never watched Fight Club.

But I have seen so many episodes of Only In Japan with John Daub that it’s worrying my family.

John Daub (@OnlyinJAPANtv) is the producer, writer, designer, marketer, director, set designer, orchestrator and mastermind behind my all-time favorite YouTube series — Only in Japan with John Daub. He’s one of the hardest working creative people that I’ve ever met. Seriously, he fills all the roles I listed above. Watch eight seconds of one of his videos and you’ll soon see how much work this guy pours into his craft.

But what’s more important than John’s work ethic is his mission to bring smiles to the faces of his audience. As dramatic as this sounds, this episode changed me. The more I listen to it, the more I understand that what matters more than your own happiness is the happiness of the people you serve with your work. The way that John intonates his words when he’s telling his stories, or while speaking in normal conversation, is so magical and brilliant. John is raising the spiritual bar high for all creative people. If your work isn’t bringing you a sense of meaning, then you need to find something else to do. Make something that excites you as much as John gets excited about Japan.

If you can tell a good story, you will always have a job.

John Daub

Show us something strange or weird or something beyond all comprehension! And don’t be shy! Use as many exclamation marks as you want. Learn the tricks of the trade, the rules, the restrictions. And then break them. Break them down because you’ve mastered the art of self-expression.

But know that it’s going to be work. A lot of work. John works full-time on OnlyinJapan. Choosing what to work on matters more than hard work for hard work’s sake. Doing what you love might seem like fun and games, but more often than not, it’s a lot of flailing around in the dark. The cure? Have fun with it! Be silly, express yourself, and don’t be afraid to come up with material on the spot. You don’t need to have everything planned out beforehand. John Daub’s massive collection of videos is a living playbook on how to create content that delights an audience. The secret ingredient? It’s all in the story.

Please enjoy!


This episode is brought to you by The Hey Penguin Newsletter. Hey Penguin includes tips for improving yourself through creativity, plus a bunch of extra goodies like drafts of blog posts, art I’m digging, letters from my audience, and previews of podcast episodes. Sounds good? Click here to subscribe and get the next issue delivered straight to your inbox.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #11: Deepu Asok on Meditation, Yoga, Drawing, and Happiness

Meditation is that state where you are no more. Your sense of Self is gone.

If you ask an artist where his work comes from, if he’s a generous artist, he’ll say, ‘I don’t know where it comes.’

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

Deepu Asok is the author and illustrator of the wonderful and enlightening Visual Wisdom newsletter. He’s also the host of a podcast called The Happiness Hypothesis. He’s got a serious eye for designs that pop.

Deepu and I were dming over meditation and spirituality. But he had to get going, and asked to continue our talk over zoom some time. I said sure. And of course, I asked if he wanted to record our talk for the podcast. He said yes. And so, here we are.

Please enjoy my conversation with the wonderful and wise Deepu Asok!

Talking Points

  • On different schools of meditation and yoga (3:00)
  • The benefits of doing yoga before meditation (11:00)
  • Why meditate? (14:00)
  • “Philosophy doesn’t transform you. Practice transform you” (21:00)
  • “The lion is trying to help you, but it doesn’t know how.” (28:00)
  • On Happiness and work (37:00)
  • Three types of work (43:00)
  • Selling on Gumroad (50:00)
  • The differences between drawing and writing (55:00)
  • “You’re paying for the organization of the ideas” / Constraints (1:00:00)
  • Art vs Content (1:07:00)
  • On books and reading (1:16:00)
  • Wishful thinking (1:23:00)
  • Flow in drawing (1:35:00)
  • Constraints (1:40:00)
  • Final questions (1:46:00)

Mentions

Books and articles

Civilized to Death

The Art of Learning

Living Buddha Living Christ

Flow

Linchpin

This Is Marketing

Atomic Habits

Show Your Work!

Getting Things Done

Thinking Fast and Slow

Mind in Motion

Autobiography of a Yogi

Ladders of Wealth Creation

People

Inner Engineering

Thich Nhat Hanh

Carl Jung

Alan Watts

Naval Ravikant

Seth Godin

Nathan Barry

Austin Kleon

Derek Sivers

David Perell

Tiago Forte

Other

Indie Hackers