You’re listening to the live happier longer podcast, episode 63.
Welcome to the live happier longer podcast. This podcast is equal parts, information, inspiration, education and motivation, all dedicated to increase longevity and improving overall quality of life. I’m your host, Molly Watts and I’m here to help you build the habits of a happier longer life. Let’s get started.
Well, hello. Welcome back to the live happier longer podcast. This is episode 63 and I just want to say that when you make a statement on your podcast that you’ll be reviewing a book that you’ve really wanted to read. You should probably check out the fact that the book is actually 512 pages and is written by a Nobel prize winning, um, well he’s a psychologist. But he won it for economics because they don’t have a Nobel prize for psychology. And the book is amazing, but it is not easy reading. So long story short, I said I was going to be reviewing, I’m thinking fast and slow today by Daniel Kahneman and I am not finished with it. So that is not happening today tonight. Um, before I get to that, I think I, you know, last week I totally forgot because Angela’s not here to remind me to do a weather forecast because we always talk about the weather here on the live happier longer podcast before we get going.
And you know, quite honestly there’s a bit to talk about here in Oregon right now. I read today in the Willamette week one of our local publications that it’s been the rainiest month Portland has seen in more than two years. That’s right. January, 2020 the rainiest month that Portland has seen in more than two years. And um, we’ve already had 5.67 inches here in Portland. We have more rain on the way and so there’s a very good chance that when we get out of January at the end of this week, we will be probably one of the top 20 to 30th wettest Januaries of all time since they’ve been measuring rain here in Portland. Just in case you’re wondering if your friends in Oregon are like losing it over the rain right now? Yeah, they are. I am. I know for sure. I really can’t complain because I did go to Phoenix this last weekend.
I spent three days down with my good friend and it was absolutely sublime. Anybody that says that there’s nothing to sun affecting your, you’re crazy. Okay, well maybe not. You know, for some people it doesn’t. For me I think it does. At least it makes it feel like it’s easier for me to get into a better mood and I get to just do things. I get to walk and be outside and get in the sun and go swimming and you know, it was just, it was just lovely. Super fun to get away and yes, but here I am back in soggy, rainy, extra rainy Oregon here in January. So instead of talking about thinking fast and slow, which I will be doing at some point in time, I am going through this book and quite honestly it’s intense. It’s very, , there’s a lot of information and it was a bestseller, back in 2011 and it’s still a bestseller.
It’s still regarded. Dr Kahneman is regarded as,, one of the leading psychologists of our time because of this work. So it’s incredibly important and it’s super important in terms of the talks and the way that I’ve talked about in the episode previous, I mean in the podcast previously about the primitive brain and the prefrontal cortex. If you apply his terms to it, it’s your fast thinking versus your slow thinking. And he has some really interesting research that they compiled over. He and his research partner really compiled for many years and years. And this book is really the result of all of that. So at some point in time, I will be talking about thinking fast and slow because it’s really applicable to the think, feel, act cycle and all of that managing your lower brain. But tonight, today we aren’t going to be talking about that because I did not get it all the way red.
So instead we’re going to be talking about happiness and how to choose thoughts that create happiness in your life and why it’s important to understand that you are in control of creating feelings for yourself each and every day, all the time. And even when it’s hard, even when it feels hard like it does to me right now in this rainy, dark weather, it feels like I have to work harder at it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. And it doesn’t mean that it isn’t. I mean, I’m actually adding to my own suffering by having the thought that this is hard. So when you really truly understand that your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings create your actions, it’s really like the best news I could ever give you. I know it doesn’t sound like it might be the best news I could give you, but truly it is because you and only you have control and power over your own feelings and over your choices.
And it’s not the weather. It’s not your weight. It’s not your marriage. It’s not your job. It’s not your house. It’s not your kids. It’s not your dog. None of those things are what can cause you or help you to feel happy. The only thing that can do that is your thoughts. And it’s important to understand that this may not beyond the fact that the weather kind of stinks right now. And that is, makes it harder for me. And I think other people, if you are, if you have a seasonal affective disorder, and that’s a real thing for sure. Um, you know that that impacts your ability to feel, to feel happy. You kind of have a mild depression during this kind of weather. But for most of us, it’s actually an evolutionary thing. There’s a book called the big leap by gay Hendricks, and he talks about this, about how when humans were evolving, right?
We had to be kind of worried, stressed out living on the edge, right? In order to survive, we literally had to sleep with one eye open or we would die. So then kind of having insomnia and having anxiety, that was kind of a good thing. So we were sort of predetermined. We’re sort of genetically determined, predetermined to be stressed out and to always kind of look for that negative bias. And so by default we are not programmed to hold on to happiness and to endure it because we are looking for things to go wrong so that we survive. But our brain hasn’t really caught up with the fact that we don’t need it to help us, you know, avoid death all the time in our modern day lives. And it requires actually noticing. And I remember talking to Catherine Nikolai who does the Nothing Much Happens podcast for helping people sleep and it’s wonderful.
And she talked about this, about how she really practices and noticing things and making, finding positive things every day to help offset that negative bias. But anyways, let’s get back to a little bit of happiness and um, and understanding that it’s, it’s really happy. It’s really hard to be happy when your is filled with negative clutter. So, you need to first of all, kind of download that and get rid of it and write down some of the thoughts that might be causing you to have unhappy or negative emotions. Right? And that is something that a lot of us aren’t really good at. We are not good at articulating how we’re feeling and we’re certainly not good at really honing in on the thoughts that we’re having that are creating the feelings in the first place. So I would challenge you to look at your it really look at your thoughts and see if there’s anything that you know, that you need to get rid of.
Just just, you know, get rid of right away. I probably need to lose, like I hate rain as a thought because it does not help me be happy and I can instead look and say, I don’t love the rain, but rain helps keep our forests green. You can change your thoughts, you can mold them to, help you get through to a point. It’s a bridge thought so that you can at least get to a point where you’re not totally negative on whatever it is that you’re thinking about. Another part that I, I actually read a book this week. It was a short book and I’m not going to go into all of it, but it was a actually kind of a recap of a Ted talk on smiling and, this Ted talk, I will link that in my show notes. But the Ted talk basically gave a whole bunch of research on smiling and how smiling is, by intentionally smiling how you can really create a feelings of trust and feelings of happiness in other people.
And some of the interesting facts that I thought were really fun that I wanted to share with you was that according to a study more than 30% of adults smile more than 20 times per day. So it’s great if you’re one of those people like I am, I smile way more than 20 times per day. It’s a good thing. Uh, fewer than 14% of us smile less than five times per day. Don’t want to be on that end. But the real stars of all of this are the children who enjoy the great feeling of a smile. Reportedly as many as 400 times a day. Isn’t that awesome? So if you’re a kid, , and that’s why it’s important to remember to think like a child, right? Kids, especially the little ones are entirely immersed in little tiny, small things that make them smile.
When you watch kids in there, you know, blowing bubbles or looking at something really simple like a dandelion, they can get fascinated right by it. And, and it’s so amazing. Children can just get immersed in the magic of the moment. And as adults, of course, those things tend to kind of get hidden by everything else that goes on in our lives. Right? I think that this, the, so one of the things that I got out of this book that I really loved was, um, an idea that he has, and he calls it his smiling list, or his nickname,actually he’s given, It is a “dandelion list” and “it’s a short mental record of 10 things that are usually present in my immediate environment that I associate with smiling. Each item on the list is either common in nature or something I can carry with me in my bag.
I think of them as my personal dandelions. My list includes art, children, trees, certain colors, flowers, and other personal shot chotchkies that helped me ground myself and remind me to be present and smile no matter what I do or where I am. Uh, he says, most of these memory joggers appear naturally and locally everywhere. And serve as a good reminder to me to bring my life race to a momentary halt, smile and feel good using this simple technique. I don’t need special circumstances or big events to invoke smiling and happiness. All I need is one of those simple personal reminders.” He says, feel free to try it yourself. What are your smiling chotchkies? What’s on your dandelion list? So I thought that was fantastic. I think I’ll create a little handout for all of you to create your own dandelion list per Ron Gutman’s suggestion and the Smile book from the Ted talk.
And I just encourage you to find ways to create happiness in your life this coming week. Here’s another little interesting note about smiling. Researchers have found that’s one smile can be as pleasurable and stimulating is up to 2000 bars of chocolate, um, obviously much better for you. So it’s uh, also, um, important and an important evolutionary feedback loop in the brain. So, um, smiling is been shown to not only be very pleasurable, but it actually been shown to increase longevity and lessen stress. There were studies that showed that they actually looked at like major league baseball cards and when they coded the smiles and categorize them from no smile to full smiles, the study found that the span of a player’s grin could actually predict the span of his life. Players who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of only 72.9 years. Those with partial smiles lived an average of 75 years and players with big beaming smiles lived an average of 79.9 years.
So, if you really want to live happier longer, clearly you need to smile more., this is something that I think is really important. So you use your Dandelion list. It’s again, it’s just like thinking, right? It’s intentional and when you smile and when you put a smile on your face, you can’t help but feel a little bit inside of you and smile in your voice and it, you, it feel you can feel yourself lightening up, right? Even when it’s raining outside. Smile. Find something to smile about. Thinking about a color, thinking about a child, thinking about a song that makes you smile. All of these things can help you, improve your happiness, whether it’s the dead of winter or, um, you know, a great day in the summer. So that is going to be it for tonight. And I’m sorry that I was not ready to do “Thinking Fast and Slow.” I hope that I’m able to do it here sooner rather than later. But I did have a fantastic weekend and enjoyed myself, so I hope you do
some of the same and I will see you all next week. Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. If this podcast is helping you and you’d like to go a little deeper, maybe track your progress on your habit building, you should check out our five for life planner. The planner is 13 weeks undated, and you can start literally at any time to create the habits of a happier, longer life. It’ll keep you motivated and it’ll keep you accountable and Hey, it’s affordable. So go to shop dot five for life.co that’s shop.buy for life.co and enter promo code podcast for a special discount.