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What Shouldn’t Make you Happy, but Does!

Smile

“Enjoy the little things in life … for one day you’ll look back and realize
they were the big things” — Kurt Vonnegut

***

I spent the past ten years of my life working hard and when I reached the peak, I didn’t feel happy. Then, for a moment, I realized that I missed all about it somewhere during my arduous journey to chase my endless dreams. Sometimes, going through challenges, worries, and painful situations “shouldn’t make you happy, but does” as Sonja Lyubomirsky (2013) — a positive psychologist — subtitled her book about the myths of happiness.

You are driving, for example, to attend a very important conference when suddenly you have car troubles. It is not a happy incident at all. While waiting for a help, you start observing everything around — people talking, laughing, fighting, helping each other, or listening to the nature. You will learn a lot during this moment bringing some unexpected happiness to your heart and soul. When you get ill, you feel so sad. It is a natural feeling as a human being. However, this illness can provide you a chance to know yourself more and realize some strengths of your character that you never think of. This is a kind of misfortune that has a gift inside, but we can’t see.

Would you stop chasing happiness?

Because you already have it as Benjamin Foley argued in his article.

These small things happen by chance without planning, but they bring a lot of joy and happiness into your life. You may think that they are not the direct reasons behind your happy day, but they do. One of my favorite things in the world is playing with my niece and laughing from the bottom of my heart when I feel something is impossible to happen. Listening to my grandmother telling stories about her past was a little thing that I never forget. Even if she is no more, but I still remember her eyes glistening with passion and delight. Taking a wonderful photo for my close friends asking them to say cheese to draw a smile on their faces although I am not in is something I consider very big.

Simply, it is the human connection and the power of relationships.

Based on a body of research in the field of positive psychology, Sonja Lyubomirsky (2008) and her colleagues believed that happiness is determined by three factors as illustrated in the infographic below:

Infographic
Source: INFOGRAPHIC: The Science of Happiness,
based on the ‘The How of Happiness” book by Lyubomirsky (2008)

Sonja Lyubomirsky argued that 50% of the variance in happiness is due to our genes. When you ask the question: “Why are some people happier than others?” About 50% of the answer lies in genetics. Some of us have sort of happier genes. About 10% lies in our life circumstances, some of us are richer, some are poorer, some are more or less attractive, more or less healthy. Life circumstances play a part in our happiness, but not as big as one might expect. You think you will be happier when you achieve more positive circumstances in your life. When you get a new job, or when you have a baby. But, the truth is that those things don’t affect our happiness as much as we think they will. This leaves 40 % of happiness under our control, under our power to change. This is what researchers work on. They study happy people — how do they behave? what do they think? And they found:

Happy people are really good at relationships. If you look at the happiest people, they all really have stable, fulfilling relationships, partnerships, friends, even with their pets they have good relationships.

***

Furthermore, there is a study conducted by Harvard University for 75 years. They have tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out. To get the clearest picture of these lives, they don’t just send them questionnaires. They interview them in their living rooms. They get their medical records from their doctors. They draw their blood, they scan their brains, they talk to their children. They videotape them talking with their wives about their deepest concerns.

The lessons that they have generated on these lives aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that they get from this 75-year study is that good relationships keep us happier and healthier. They found people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected.

Photo by Rose Lincoln on the Harvard Gazette

For more about this study, here is a video by Robert Waldinger on TED Talk

***

Have you noticed that small details bring us the most joy?

Vu confirmed this point of view in her book Just Little Things: A Celebration of Life’s Simple Pleasures, writing:

“Too often in our fast-paced world, these details go unnoticed, overshadowed by the stress of our daily routines. I believe we can shift our perceptions of life, and rediscover happiness, by paying attention to these simple, everyday details. The little things.”

It is not all about the money we have, or the things we own that can make us happy. But, it is the little things that we don’t find time to live and love ❤. We are humans. We are different. I am wondering, “What should make you happy, but doesn’t?

***

Works cited:

  1. Foley, Benjamin (2017, May 9). Stop Chasing Happiness and Realize You Already Have It [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/personal-growth/stop-chasing-happiness-and-realize-you-already-have-it-77ed23bd37f7
  2. Happify Daily. The Science of Happiness [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://happify.com/hd/science-of-happiness-infographic/
  3. Lyubomirsky, Sonja (2013, February 20). On the Myths of Happiness [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/podcasts/item/sonja_lyubomirsky_on_the_myths_of_happiness
  4. Lyubomirsky, Sonja (2013). The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy but Does. New York: The Penguin Press.
  5. Lyubomirsky, Sonja (2008). The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: The Penguin Press.
  6. Mineo, Liz (2017, April 11). Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier. [Digital image taken by Rose Lincoln]. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/
  7. Vu, Nancy (2013). Just Little Things: A Celebration of Life’s Simple Pleasures. New York: Penguin Group.
  8. Waldinger, Robert (2015, November). What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness [Video file]. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness.

 

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Another Dream!

SELRES_8b43e534It  It is my first memoir.

Memoir is simply a personal story in which one writes about events that took place in his or her life. It is not just show, but tell as well that means describing and reflecting on these moments.

Kindly read my memoir and think about what I can do to make it better. Your ideas and suggestions are much appreciated and welcomed.

Another Dream

At eighteen, I suddenly found myself in a place where I never dreamed to go. It was so hard. This was one of those moments when there were no words I could say to express how I felt and what I thought.

Even my poor mind couldn’t stand to listen to the sound of my heart groaning loud. I turned my wandering eyes to the dark sky, high up to the empty heaven, searching for answers to my endless whys. The salty, hot tears running down my pale cheeks filled my throat with bitterness, sorrow, and despair. A long silence was all I heard. With closed eyes, I saw myself; the little girl of six wore her brother’s long-sleeve white shirt playing doctor and patient. “What seems to be the problem?” she seriously asked him, checking his chest with a big smile.

All my goals and hopes to be an angel taking care of people in deep pain slowly melted away like an ice cube in a glass of water. I wondered, “If I wrote them using my dad’s bold black-ink pen instead of that yellow pencil with weak gray lines, it would never be an empty dream with no date. To avoid their looks full of pity and sympathy which I saw in their half-closed glowering eyes, I slept more that day than I had any other day. It was just a strong desire to see what I wanted to be before it became a memory in my past.

In my first day at college of education, I aimlessly walked to where they told me to go, dragging my lazy legs behind. I stood like a palm tree in the doorway of the class and for a moment my mind travelled away, sending a message to my lips to draw an enigmatic smile like Mona Lisa’s all over my tired face. I went back in time when I was only six and remembered the little girl, jumping up the stairs to see her dad teaching the kids in the 6th grade. “Does the history repeat itself?” I asked myself. A shout close to me suddenly ended this sweet daydream. I turned back, trying to wipe some tears away. It was a tall thin girl with wide cheekbones holding a chair in one of her huge hands and hugging a pile of books with the other. “Go in or get out of the way,” she demanded rudely, squeezing herself past me swiftly without permission.

“Your new adventure has just started, ” I whispered to myself, and took a deep breath.

Sometimes, life takes you on a different path that you have never planned for. You cannot refuse or judge these decisions. You cannot even say “No”. Time is all you need to get the chaos out of your mind; to dig deep inside and figure out what is inside you that you do not know is there. These harsh moments bring something you own to the surface, announcing the birth of a new human.

Four years flew by and my mind was still burning with fear and worry. “What if I can’t make you proud of me?” I asked him, looking into his deep, dark eyes to find a glimpse of hope to guide me along, along the way. I felt his large, warm hand taking mine like an old blanket on a cold winter night and quietly said, “I believe in you.” Then, he gently touched my shoulder, smiled and started telling his lovely stories about history and old times. His deep, calm voice sounded like a music to my ear going up and down, louder and softer. He was so special. Oh! Dad. Even when he was no more, he was all around with me smelling his sweet fragrance, heavy in the air.

Pulling out my small notebook and my yellow sharp pencil, I bravely wrote it: another dream. This time it was my own dream, not my dad’s. I promised myself to enjoy it to the fullest, and never look back. At last, I came to the end of the chapter. The happiest moment was not to get my Master’s degree, and then to earn my Doctorate, which took ten years of my life, but the way to reach my dream and make it happen. It was the first decision I ever made on my own, and the most difficult. I constantly told myself, “I can do it!” And I did it.

When you do not find the way to what you want, create your own way. It is your journey. Take your time to grumble, complain, and cry but quickly rise and fight. It is you who can do it because you are the only person in the whole world who knows exactly where you want to go. You have the choice. Will you live in the past for the rest of your life? Or will you chase another dream?

* * *

I couldn’t have completed this work without the generous help and support of many:

Dr. Emily Wender
Assistant Professor of English
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
ENGL 324 W01 course

Jessica & Courtnee
Peer Feedback Colleagues
ENGL 324 W01 course at IUP

Rachel Schiera
MAT, D.Ed. ABD
Curriculum and Instruction Program
Department of Professional Studies in Education
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

My friends
Achama Isaac
Oliver Stephen Kimathi
Mariel GomezdelaTorre

Please, leave your comment here in the box below.
Happy reading!
🙂

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Travel I want …

Travel I want

Travel I want …

Travel I want through time with no one but mine.
Look behind not but hug them; moments I never find.
To sit a little bit and go inside …
Happy it seems … not I bet!
Tried to tell him but always I smile.
Believe me not, oh my mind!
Inside you, only “the eye”
I forget …

“My first attempt at writing poetry!”
Azhar Youssef

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WANT, but I have NOT

Sometimes, I feel I strongly want to write a story, but no words come out as powerful as my feelings and desire to express my inside. I am quite good at writing instructions and explanations to my students and colleagues, posts about my teaching experiences, or debates to explain my viewpoints with others. My problem arises when it comes to writing stories and descriptions.  

I know I have a great desire to start writing creatively. 

Many questions come to my mind when deeply thinking about this issue as a learner and writer:

  1. Is it a problem of lacking a huge list of poetic vocabulary to choose from? 
  2. Is it  a lack of background about other styles of writing to learn from? 
  3. Is it a matter of time and persistence to achieve a level of mastery in this kind of art?
  4. Is it a talent or gift from God that some people have?
  5. Is it possible to write creatively and play with words although I don’t have a narrative writing style? 
  6. Can I learn the tools of being a successful novelist?

Please, don’t say it is so easy to do this. Just go and start writing and writing and writing. I’m a very passionate learner who loves pursuing challenges and achieving difficult goals. I tried to improve my creative potential through attending some writing courses and getting engaged in many tasks. This blog was my e-portfolio for a five-week “Crafting An Effective Writer (CEW)” course last year. I created it to track my progress and improvement during that experience. I admit I loved my pieces of writing, but they weren’t what I love to read. Although I spent much time doing the required tasks, I was not satisfied with the final products. Discussing the main question about writing styles with my peers in the forums, I found that I have a Teacher (i.e., expository) and Activist (i.e., persuasive) writing styles. This explains why my descriptive and narrative writings are not creative and rich. 

Here is a piece of my CEW writings that asks for describing a natural object or scene in nature:

Leaning on the trunk of an old fallen tree in my grandmother’s lifeless garden, my eyes quickly went into a deep slumber after a long day of work. I woke up to the lovely sounds of birds singing and spinning over my head. Rubbing my sleepy eyes, I saw an incredibly charming scene with no human touch: crystal sea water, bright blue sky, colorful birds and a large grassy meadow all around. The waves lapped the seashore gently sending a cool breeze towards me to smell. I kept breathing deeply filling my lungs before it blew away with the wind. Looking around, I found them, blushing red flowers proudly stood, and gently swayed to the sea song. If I were a bee, I would spend the whole day buzzing around, just smelling their sweet fragrance, heavy in the air. The first rays of the sun, which were so white, slowly shone down upon the crystal-clear sea water creating a breathtaking landscape with delightful colors of the rainbow. Two dolphins graciously jumped out of the water making a big splash to say hello and celebrate my arrival. My eyes deeply closed, I tried to lustily hug this magnificent scene, when my 80-year-old grandma’s croaky deep voice sent me back to where I was on the other side of the sight. Although it lasted a few moments, this dream stuck in my mind simply because it carried unforgettable memories in my life.

I am not a person who gives up so easily. That’s why I decided to start a new e-dventure of writing. It is a free online course hosted by FutureLearn about “Writing Fiction“. If you are interested, please join me. I hope I would find what I’m searching for; tools of crafting my own style of narrative writing.

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I’m starting a new e-dventure of writing!

 https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fiction

I’m starting a new online course Start Writing Fiction on the FutureLearn platform from April 28, 2014 for 8 weeks. This hands-on course helps you to get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central skill of creating characters.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fictionIn this course, we will listen to established writers talk about how they started writing and consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal. We will learn how to develop our ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and we will hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.

We will also have the opportunity to review and comment on the work of fellow writers, and receive peer feedback on our own story, learning the importance of reading as a writer and how to receive and respond to feedback. I will continue tweeting about what I learn from this course using this hashtag #FLfiction14. 

Resource:

2

Last words …

Retrieved June 16, 2013 from here

Retrieved June 16, 2013 from here

Throughout the past five weeks, I don’t know how to tell you how much I learned, gained, shared, discussed, responded, created, and reviewed. Crafting an Effective Writer is not a course for teaching grammar only, but it also draws learners’ attention and raises their awareness of these structures to make use of them effectively in their paragraphs. In the first four weeks, we spent a lot of time analyzing and practicing all the parts of speech, clauses and phrases. In the last week, we used all what we learned earlier to compose a complete paragraph putting in mind some criteria, e.g., topic sentence, details, organization, transitions, variety of sentences, concluding sentence, punctuation, spelling, … etc. Working on my final paragraph, I found that it was not enough to study and try out the writing process stages in just a week. Expanding the course to another week or more would be great to cover all the skills needed before composing. The good news is that this course will be offered again in mid September. I hope they put all our suggestions into account.

By drawing its curtains, I would like to thank all my instructors, MSJC staff, and community TAs for their great efforts and valuable time.  Crafting an Effective Writer was one of the most well-organized courses I took on Coursera. Its well-designed format helped me a lot to save more time when doing the required tasks and assignments. Furthermore, their helping hand and scaffolding was another great feature and human touch we all felt. They were all the time in the discussion forums reading our questions, responding, and encouraging us to move forward. They succeeded in creating a very engaging atmosphere through which we learned in a more secure environment trying and correcting mistakes. To say hello to my instructors and MSJC staff, please watch the following video:

My deep and sincere gratitude also goes to all my peers who reviewed my assignments and left some feedback to correct my mistakes, and help to improve my writing skills. To all my colleagues in the course, thanks so much for sharing all this amount of information, knowledge, values, perspectives and cultures. I will never forget all the moments we spent together learning, sharing and creating new ideas. I wish you the best!

Farewell!

Retrieved June 14, 2013 from here

Retrieved June 14, 2013 from here

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Week 5 Final Piece: It is Process NOT Just Product

Process not ProductThe last week of CEW course was a little bit different and challenging. We were introduced to how to create a piece of writing. The first section was about the elements of good paragraph: topic sentence, details, and concluding sentence. The second section was about the writing process stages which the writer should go through when composing: inventing, organizing, drafting, revising, and editing. To be frank, these materials needed more than 5 days to digest and practice before writing a complete paragraph. However, my peers in the discussion forums helped me a lot to make many points more clearer. In this week, we were asked to compose a direct paragraph, one that had:

  • a title;
  • a clear topic sentence;
  • a fully developed body, which includes sufficient details and examples;
  • necessary and appropriate transitions;
  • a logical conclusion; and
  • a minimum of fifteen (15) sentences.

Topics to choose from:

  1. Topic #1 : Discuss at least four (4) short term and/or long term effects that finishing Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade will have upon you personally, academically, and/or professionally.
  2. Topic #2 : Identify and describe a favorite activity or interest and provide at least four reasons why this activity or interest holds your attention and/or is enjoyable to you.
  3. Topic #3 : Identify and describe at least three (3) ways a person, male and/or female, is recognized as an adult in your culture.
  4. Topic #4: Identify and describe a traditional ethnic food from your culture. Provide at least four reasons why this food has remained an essential, primary food in your culture. While you may include the recipe, this topic asks you to discuss the importance of the food in your culture.

Final Paragraph Rubric:

My Final Paragraph:

Why I should …

BlogBlogging, a kind of e-writing, is a powerful activity that empowers and unleashes one’s full potential to become more engaged, active, and vigorous by providing a digital space to express, create, publish, connect, collaborate, and communicate. Writing is not my strong suit; however, I enjoy posting my thoughts, ideas, and feelings on my blog. Blogging is my favorite activity by which I express myself in different channels using words, images, sounds, or videos. It provides me with a special language for my inner self when it comes out to freely communicate desires, hopes, motivations, fears, or worries. It is not only a unique way for self-expression, but it also becomes a journey of self-discovery to dig in depth. When I blog about all situations and moments around, my brain comes up with creative ways to solve problems thinking out of the box. Furthermore, it frees up my straight thinking to become more creative and critical. Once I press the publish button, my posts spread everywhere on the Internet to happily announce the birth of a promising published author. Sharing what I blog with others, I feel that I have a voice in this world which may affect some people in the other corner of the globe. To build bridges between those readers’ countries and cultures, I create some sort of interaction by responding to their comments and discussing their opinions from different perspectives. Thus, blogging is considered as a two-way communication through which I can give and receive an immediate feedback to correct my own mistakes. Having another eye to read my posts also helps me draw connections between ideas and thoughts to develop them further. On the other hand, blogging for authentic audience makes me more responsible and accurate caring about both content and grammar. Although this requires more time and efforts, I feel so proud because my followers continuously increase and eagerly ask for more. In addition to all the reasons above, it enables me to connect with other bloggers to share information, collaborate with each other constructing new knowledge, and build a connected community to globally communicate making the world closer. In conclusion, keeping a blog is definitely one of the best ways that can provide a variety of opportunities and means to bring out the best in me.

Reflections:

Regarding the final paragraph, I took a lot of time practicing all the writing process stages and applying all what I learned throughout the past 5 weeks. I noticed that focusing more on rubrics impedes my ability to write a more creative piece. I really put more efforts on how to match all the required criteria neglecting my writing fluency. The main reason behind this problem was definitely my worries and fears of my peers’ assessments. There is a big difference when writing on my blog; I feel like a butterfly expressing my ideas and thoughts so freely and smoothly. Writing creatively needs more freedom, I think!

References:

  1. The first image is retrieved June 16, 2013 from here.
  2. The second image is retrieved June 16, 2013 from here.