I just recently read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for a new book club I joined. On the surface, this is not the type of book I read. I am not a big one for self-help guides (probably because, as a psychologist, I’m fixated on all of the oversimplifications and omissions in these types of popular audience books). I also, sad to say, do not usually radiate positivity and optimism. Let’s just say people aren’t usually surprised I’m from Boston and I do pretty well in New York, too.
So I was surprised to find that the book quickly hooked me. Even more surprising, I actually took action and made some small changes in my life, before I had even finished the book. I made some hard choices about donating clothes I never wear, which both clogs my closet and fills me with unneeded regret about my appearance (and lack of cutting edge style). I took my kitchen knives for sharpening, an inexpensive task that for some reason daunted me but will restore the joy I find in cooking. I redoubled my efforts to find a wireless headset for when I work from home, so I’m no longer tethered to my desk during calls and longing for a chance to grab a glass of water or stretch my legs. Oh, and I got a manicure, which I always need because my nails look terrible–and never get, because my hands look terrible. Even aside from the effects of the changes, just doing these things made me feel good.
Not surprising, since taking action is a way of exercising one’s autonomy. I like the idea of willfully doing something just because I know it will bring me pleasure. I plan to do more of it.
I have lots more thoughts on The Happiness Project I’d like to share, but for now, I’ll leave you with the link to Gretchen Rubin’s site, where she provides toolkits to try a Happiness Project of your own.
I found out a few days ago that my presentation proposal was accepted to UXPA Boston on May 15. I’m pretty excited–user experience is a topic I’m passionate about, and I’ve found it’s not always easy as a psychologist to have a voice in that process. People usually think of designers and information architects when they think of UX, but we psychologists have some things to add too!
The agenda for the conference was just published this week and I have to say I am both excited and intimidated by it. Excited because I’m going to get to see a lot of great presentations that will add immediate value to my day-to-day work–and intimidated for obvious reasons.
Anyway, if you work in the area of user experience, check out the UXPA Boston event. You’ll definitely learn at least one thing, and it’s next door to one of my favorite watering holes, Bukowski Tavern, for post-conference beer time.
Internet comic The Oatmeal has a great series of comics on his motivation to run–and not just run, but run ridiculous, ultra-marathon distances. According to him, the inspiration to run comes from a desire to beat The Blerch.
You know The Blerch. Basically, it’s the self-indulgent saboteur inside us all who keeps urging us to do things the easy way, avoid pain, and partake in immediate pleasures. Running is a way to extend a big ol’ middle finger to that saboteur. That can feel incredibly motivating. And it’s a good thing, because as The Oatmeal points out, running doesn’t always have the other positive benefits you might hope for. Continue reading Running motivation: Beating the Blerch→
Tomorrow night I’ll be back at Intelligent.ly to talk about Design Psychology. If you’re in the Boston area and want to learn more about how to apply principles of motivation to your product design, please come!
I really love being at Intelligent.ly. The people who attend the classes are awesome, smart and motivated folks from a wide variety of backgrounds. I feel like I always come away from these nights with new questions and perspectives on motivational design when I teach, and every one I’ve attended as a student has been excellent as well. I really recommend attending a class or two if you’re in the Boston area. It doesn’t even have to be mine!
I think a lot about motivational design in the context of my own health behaviors, and probably never more than when I just trained for and ran my very first marathon. Although it can be dangerous to take a case study too seriously (as I learned from one of my mentors at the University of Michigan, Chris Peterson), since any one person is unique, there’s definitely value in using case studies to think about how principles might work out in real life.