Category: Happiness

Modern Media and the Paradox of Choice

Have you ever heard of the concept of ‘the paradox of choice’?  This is the idea that choice is not always a freeing experience but quite the reverse. That an abundance of choices can lead to unhappiness, anxiety, depression and loneliness.

It seems kind of counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t choice be a liberating thing? But it makes sense when you think about it. For example, if I have one restaurant to eat at then I will be happy with said restaurant. When I have 15 restaurants then what was once pleasurable for me at the lone restaurant may be gross in comparison. Plus, now I have the anxiety and frustration of picking out a restaurant when before I went and made it work.

I was thinking about this particularly in terms of media. Never in history of time has there been so many options for entertainment. It is quite overwhelming.

I couldn’t find the exact number but I believe around 700 films are currently released each year. That is triple what we had in the 80s and 90s.

Just think about animated films alone:

By my counts we had 35 animated films both indie and main studio released in 2016. In contrast, 1984 had 0 animated releases. Can you imagine that? A whole year without an animated film? Now we get 2 or 3 a month.

Because of the scarcity of options we would see a very flawed movie like Oliver and Company and have a good time with it. It felt more special because it kind of was. I think you could say the same thing for a movie like Space Jam. It’s not a very good movie but it was an animated comedy and we didn’t get many of those.

Compare the experience of Oliver and Company with the recent release of Smurfs: the Lost Village. I liked the film but it did not do well at the box office. Critics were pretty harsh on it and audiences weren’t drawn to it. Imagine if that was the only animated film of the year? People would have went to it and enjoyed it.

But on the other hand, a plethora of options can be a great thing. To use 2016 as an example we got so much great animation. I had 9 animated films in my top 25 of the year and they all deserved their spot. In one year I was treated to Zootopia, Moana, Your Name, The Red Turtle, Kubo and the Two Strings and more.

On the other hand, I can’t help but compare my experience as a little girl watching Little Mermaid and obsessing about it for 3 years hard core. Kids don’t do that as much now because the next movie has come in the next month and they’ve moved on. It seems like movies like Zootopia and Moana aren’t as special as they would have been in the 90s. Not because they aren’t great films, because they are, but because we simply have so many other options.

It is even worse with TV where the options are endless. Literally every day I hear about a new show I have to see. At least with movies I can pump it out in 2 hours where a TV show requires so much investment. A side of me misses the day when there were 10 channels and you found something to entertain you on that channel.  Now we have the networks, premium channels, streaming and even online providers and youtubers.

I end up having to narrow my focus and watch animation and period pieces as top priority. Then I have innocuous comedies and food shows as my unwind. But I would love to watch Dr Who, Avatar, Legend of Kora, Steven Universe, and a million other shows. I’ve been wanting to watch the original Star Trek for forever but I’ve only seen a few episodes (which were brilliant). Even for someone like me with a flexible schedule there just isn’t enough hours in the day!

Dr Barry Schwartz says about the paradox of choice:

“Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.”

He then talks about how having a choice can make our eventual decision less satisfying:

“Schwartz finds that when people are faced with having to choose one option out of many desirable choices, they will begin to consider hypothetical trade-offs. Their options are evaluated in terms of missed opportunities instead of the opportunity’s potential….afterwards, it affects the level of satisfaction we experience from our decision.”

I feel like this is true with so many aspects of modern life. Even many deciding their major can be super overwhelming when back in my grandma’s day you just picked bachelor of arts or science and went on your merry way. Maybe there is something to that?

What do you think? Do we almost have too many choices these days and do you find it overwhelming? How do you decide what shows to watch and movies to see? Have you felt this paradox of choice with media or other part of your life? I would love to discuss it!

The Joys of Christmas Consistency

We are now in the midst of the holiday season and I hope you are having as much fun as I am. So far (fingers crossed) I have not gotten sick, which is a plus over other years. Tonight I had my parents and Grandfather over for a Christmas meal. I made meatloaf (gluten free using potato flakes), potatoes and butternut squash, zucchini and squash and russian cream with fruit for dessert. It was all pretty delicious and we had a nice time together

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Anyway, as we were visiting I asked my Mother if she could remember a special Christmas from her youth. Maybe one where she had gotten something she really wanted or done something special but she couldn’t think of anything. Then I asked my Dad and he had the same response. I thought about my youth and to mys surprise I also couldn’t think of specific memories. One year I got an American Girl doll and that was pretty special but most of the Christmas memories mesh together into a big happy time.

The more I thought about it the more I realized perhaps that consistency is the greatest thing about holidays and traditions. The memories aren’t all that important but it’s that they happen every year and feel for the most part the same. As an adult I’ve lost a lot of that consistency because every year seems to be different, with different people.  This year I have celebrated Christmas with my brother Sam and sister Maddie already and have given my parents their gift because they were all traveling.

Then we just had the meal tonight and I will probably be alone through Christmas unless my Aunt or someone decides to join me. This is now my 4th Christmas alone so I suppose that is becoming consistent but each year I’ve done something different.  In 2013 I met up with friends and went to a movie, in 2014 I was deathly ill, in 2015 I went to Chinese food. I don’t know what I will do this year. Maybe I will finish binge watching Fuller House Season 2? Who knows? 🙂

It’s kind of impossible to make my Christmas season more consistent because I just don’t know what is going to be happening from year to year.  Still, I try to always have my Christmas tree, go to Messiah Sing Along and Christmas Carol. I’ve done all those things this year. So, there is some consistency.

Anyway, it’s just something I have been thinking about. Maybe a happy life isn’t about making memories per say but more about creating traditions we can count on year after year?

What do you think? Can you see what I am saying?

I would love to hear your insight.

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You’re That Type of Person Tag

bear lake 10I was tagged in the “Oh, You’re that Type of Person Tag” by friend over at The Disney Freak. She blogs about all things Disney and makeup/beauty.

https://ncdavis2003.wordpress.com

Oh, You’re That Type of Person Tag! Here are my answers to the questions:

1.Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner? If someone makes me breakfast it makes me so happy but on a day to day basis probably dinner.

2.After eating a bowl of cereal, do you drink the milk? Always! I especially like it if I have cocoa pebbles or cinnamon toast crunch.

Check out my top 10 favorite cereals post

3.When you drive, do you listen to  CD’s, radio or phone? it depends on if I have internet access.  Sometimes I listen to audiobook, podcasts, or music.  Just depends on my mood.

4.Are you a window or an aisle person? Window because you can lean on the wall and rest

5.Fold or crumple paper? I tend to tear paper up into little bits and make little piles

6.Shampoo, then body wash or  body wash and then shampoo? Never thought about it before, but I do tend to like soap over body wash

7.Are you typically stressed or relaxed? I have an anxious personality and so am more likely to be stressed than not

8.Patient or impatient?  Patience is definitely not my greatest strength

9.Do you like to have a schedule or go with the flow?  Definitely schedule

10.As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I can’t remember when I was a child but for a while when I was a teenager I wanted to be on broadway.

11.Prankster or not? Hate pranks.  I feel like they usually come across as kind of mean than funny.

12.Dressed up or dressed down? I love dressing up and looking pretty but also like relaxing in my jams!

13.Favorite article of clothing? maxi dresses all the way!

14.If you could play musical instrument, what would you play? I wish I could play the piano

15.East Coast or West Coast? East Coast because was raised in Maryland

16.London or L.A.? London even though I’ve never been there.  LA is fine but so crowded.

17.Favorite holiday?  Older I get the more I feel like holidays are more for kids but Christmas is my favorite.

18.How big is your bed? Queen

19.Do you sleep with the doors opened or closed? Closed.

20.Do you sleep with your sheets in or out? I’m not sure what that means but I like having top and bottom sheets.

21.Have you ever stolen anything? Nope

22.Tattoos or piercings? No tattoos and one piercing in each ear

23.Do you smile in all pictures? For the most part I’m smiling in real life so in pictures as well but occasionally am not happy so the pictures will show it.

24.Ever peed in the woods? Not in my memory thank goodness

25.Concert or theme park? I’ve gotten to the point where amusement parks are so hard on my feet it isn’t as much fun as it used to be.  So right now I’d say concert but I love Disneyland in small doses. All day is too much for me.

26.Music or books? Tough call.  I love music but love books too.  They both provide such different joys in my life.

27.Animated or reality?  Animated of course!

28.Letters or email? I love getting a letter but it’s so rare these days.

29.What was the first concert you ever attended? When I was in high school I saw Michael W.  Smith with a Christian friend.  That was fun.

30.Do you own a record player? No

31.Do you speak any other languages? No I don’t have much of a knack with languages- sometimes I have a hard time speaking English!

32.Sweet or savory?  I have a sweet tooth

33.Can you curl your tongue? Yep!

34.Can you put the tip of your tongue on your nose? No

35.Can you whistle? Not really very well but I guess technically I can.  I wish I could do that loud whistle with my fingertips.

36.Did you ever win a spelling bee? Not that I remember but I have all the states memorized in alphabetic order and got a trophy for that in 6th grade.  It always stays with you!

37.Do you believe in ghosts? I believe in spirits both good and evil

38.Do you believe in aliens? I think it seems hard to believe in all the galaxies that exist there isn’t another planet with life.

I’m not sure what kind of type that makes me but it was a fun tag to do.  I’m always open to tags if anyone wants to tag me!

I feel like I’ve exhausted all of my people to tag but anyone can do this one if you want.

Scheduling Happiness

On Monday I got the chance to go to an early screening of the new holiday film Love the Coopers.  It’s not a good movie.  In fact, in many ways it is a very terrible film but I had an ok time watching it.  Here’s my review:

One of the things I liked in the film is this idea of scheduling happiness that happens during the holidays.  I’ve felt that a little bit the last few years.  When I was a kid I loved the holidays because they were happening to me and the magic of the season was easy to latch onto.  As an adult that magic usually takes a lot of effort and has to be planned out.  It’s like I am saying “this Thursday I will be happy.  Let’s schedule it in”.  I don’t think during other times of the year I have such a weighted expectation of achieving happiness in all my plans.

It’s not that I expect to be miserable during the rest of the year’s goings-on but usually it’s more a more neutral every day form of happiness that is anticipated.  I go to a movie, meet a friend for lunch, attend a birthday party.  All pleasant experiences but not a highlight of the year.  During the holidays pleasant somehow feels like a letdown.  Does this make sense to any of you?

Last year I was basically alone on Christmas which was a little bit sad.  I am sure there is someone out there that likes to be alone on the holidays but the vast majority of us think of it as a time to be with family/friends.  I did have Christmas Eve with family and Christmas brunch with friends but most of the day I was alone.  The thing is it actually ended up feeling like any other day and you know what- that was a relief.  It was just a day off from work and not that different from 4th of July.  Perhaps it was being so horribly sick the year before I just allowed myself to have an ordinary day on Christmas day.

I think there might be something to this.  Instead of scheduling and planning happiness just allowing Christmas to be more of an ordinary day.  That way when the joys of the season come they feel unexpected and give us even more happiness than if we planned them out.  I know I might miss out on some things that require planning but I feel I have enough of a routine that I’m not going to really miss out. For instance, I go to Christmas Carol at Hale Theater every year.  That’s my routine so it doesn’t require much planning.

The last few holiday seasons have been interesting.  In 2012 I was alone, everything in boxes, and getting ready for the move.  Things were tough in my family that year and it was a stressful time.  In 2013 I got sick as a dog.  It was one of the sickest I have been in years.  It hurt to breathe and I was so miserable I couldn’t even open presents on Christmas day. And then last year I was alone but had a pleasant simple Christmas (again that felt like a little bit of a letdown because it was just another day).

I know people who say Christmas is better for them as adults than as children.  That’s cool for them but definitely not my experience.  Like I said, when you are a kid the magic is presented for you (or at least it was for me) and as an adult it all gets much more muddled.  I feel like sometimes I end up chasing that Christmas of my childhood and am a bit disappointed when I don’t achieve it.

This year I am going to see my family in California for Thanksgiving but not at Christmas.  I am going to try and plan a few things but I am going to try and temper that expectation of happiness and just enjoy the moments for what they are.  Sure I will plan some things but the idea of scheduling ‘I will be happy next thursday’ I don’t think works very well.  It ends up feeling like a cheesy smile in a school photo- kind of hollow version of happiness.  I just want to schedule a few things and if they make me happy that’s awesome!

Do you know what I am saying?  Does that make any sense?  Have any of you felt a little underwhelmed by the holiday season as adults?  What do you think of this idea of scheduling happiness?

1000th Post- First Post Revisited

1000-postsSo it’s here! 1000 posts! Can you believe it? I’ve thought of a lot of different things I could do to celebrate but after sharing my favorite post for 999 I thought I would take a look at my very first post on this blog.

Before I start I will say that I in no means make light of those who are without work and facing the extreme trial of unemployment.  My experience was unique and from the perspective of a young 28 year old girl who finally found a happy spot in her life.

May 12, 2008 I wrote The Freedom of Joblessness.At the time I had been unemployed for 5 months and because I had been so unhappy in my previous job it was not as difficult a time as you might expect.

It was exciting and it felt like I had a renewed lease on life.  I had also just graduated with my MBA in April.  At the time it seemed like I had been set free from a corporate penitentiary and I wanted to blog about it!

“So, this is my first foray into the world of blogging… It is hard to describe my last 6 months but let me just say that I am in the job hunt and I couldn’t be happier. I honestly think I will be a bit sad when I have to go back into the work force”

At my previous job a manager made my life miserable and being free from her influence did so much good for my self confidence and over all happiness.  I think that was a large amount of the freedom I felt.  I said “after a bit of a breakdown last year I needed a change more than anything”…

I then share a quote “I would rather be doing nothing than doing something I hate”

But that sounds so lazy I hear you say. I elaborate

“The thing…is that I haven’t been doing nothing.  When did we get it in our head that the only viable thing for a person to do is work? I have actually been very busy.  In fact, I have been doing things that I actually love that I don’t have time for when I am working including doing some writing, making a cookbook for my mom, and exercising on a regular basis”

I think there is something to that.  Why do we have this assumption that if a person isn’t participating in paid labor they are doing nothing? If I won the lottery and could make it I would quit my job in a heartbeat even though I love my job now.

The amazing thing is about 10 days after this post my Dad asked me to start working managing his rentals.  I did that for about a year working from home.  Before I knew it I was working for Grabber part time.  Then full time and then over to Poler, Now Kobayashi  All working from home!

When I look at everything good in my life including this blog it all started with the tough decision to quit my job.  To place my happiness above all the other factors and go for it. That joy felt freeing and peaceful and it still does and perhaps that’s why I keep blogging.  It was liberating then and it is liberating now!

To 1000 more posts!

Busy Valentines Day

ValentineHappy Valentines Day!  I hope you all had a happy time either with people you love or thinking about the many blessings God has given you.  We are all richly blessed and if nothing else I love every person reading these words (it’s really true!).

I had an interesting experience today.  Valentines can be a little bit hard for us single folk who are without a valentine in their life.  Yes, yes, I know lots of couples don’t celebrate Valentines including my own parents.  However, at least you know if you were going to celebrate it you have someone to do it with.  As far as my life companion I haven’t found him yet.  He’s still hiding (come out! come out! Where ever you are!).

Mothers Day is actually the hardest holiday for me because I feel like I am not fulfilling my spiritual calling and purpose for being a woman not having a family.  It is all laid on so thick on Mothers Day that typically I do not go to church.  The Mothers deserve having their day but it is just too painful for me.

Valentines Day I have a tradition of designing my own valentine and this year was no exception.  This helps me have fun with the holiday and focus on my many blessings.

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But an interesting thing happened today. I haven’t been feeling well and been sleeping even worse lately. This has made it hard to get everything done including keeping up both blogs and my youtube channel. I ended up going 10 days without a video. Yikes! I had filmed 2 but the sound didn’t work so they had to be discarded. Then today I decided to make up for lost time and filmed 6 different videos and because of audio and other problems I had to film them each 3 times!!! I ended up working on videos for 11 hours!

Here’s how they all turned out.

This is a really fun one with my Top 10 Romantic Comedies (just in time for Valentines Day!).

This one gave me my first youtube crying moment! It’s a very special movie Song of the Sea. Read my review on the blog as well. http://wp.me/p4VRGy-13p

And then some unboxings

They aren’t perfect videos but I’m proud of them especially the movie posts.  I’ve certainly come a long way in the last year and will continue to improve.

But the interesting thing about making the videos is it took all day.  All of the sudden it was 10 pm and I finished my videos and sat back exhausted and happy.  It is probably the happiest I have been on Valentines Day in a long time.  It made me realize while we are often overbusy in this world there are moments where that comes in handy!  Where the best thing you can do is put your head down and get lost in creating something.  Forget about your problems, fears, anxieties and loneliness and just work hard on something you love.

In that sense making silly videos that probably not many people will see is quite powerful.  It made me happy and if I’m lucky it might make a few other people happy who get to see them.  I got a tweet from Song of the Sea director and creator Tomm Moore today thanking me for my review.  That made me feel like a million bucks!

tweetThat’s the Valentine I needed. It reminds me of President Hinckley’s Dad saying “forget yourself and go to work”.  Isn’t it the truth!

I hope you all had a great day too.  Sure love ya!