Happiness: Not as Random as We Thought

The equation for happiness

We often think of happiness as something to be pursued, cultivated, captured. It’s an elusive or state of being that we are constantly trying to maintain. Researchers devote their time to figuring out, Why Are We Happy? Why Aren’t We Happy? And now, it seems, happiness is not quite as random as we thought. Researchers in Britain have found an equation that can predict moment-to-moment happiness, a rare piece of quantifiable data in a field so based on feelings. And what it found? Happiness isn’t based on how well we are doing at that particular time. It’s wrapped up in our expectations for how we should be doing, and it comes from if we’re doing better or worse than we expected we’d be. Good to know next time we’re trying to figure out where we should be in life.

Jon Stewart Can’t Even, and Neither Can I

A lot of people have asked me my opinion on the tragedy in Ferguson, MO. I studied Sociology. I live in a major city. They’re curious. Sometimes I try to avoid having political discussions in public, or at parties to keep the peace, but on this topic, I just had too much to explain.

I bored my relatives with talks of how racial colorblindness doesn’t work, even though many see it as politically correct. I calmly explained that no, I can’t know how a built up lifetime of frustration that could make someone riot because I have carried around my white privilege with me my entire life, but can I try to image how that might feel? Definitely.

Then yesterday I saw the post on Gothamist highlighting The Daily Show clip, and Jon Stewart’s reaction to the conservative coverage. It is so hilarious, and so on the mark. I am happy that someone has put it out there better than I ever could.

Quizzes + Giveaways: What Could Be Better?


If I have a few spare minutes on the internet, and I’ve read all the sites I usually frequent, there’s nothing I like better than taking a little quiz. It started way back when I read Seventeen and YM. Then there was the heyday of personality quiz sites. And now there is Buzzfeed answering every question we ever have about which Disney character we are, and where to get dinner. Even the NY Public Library is getting in on it with “What children’s book character are you?” (I got The Little Prince).

My second guilty pleasure is online sweepstakes. It’s like those scratch-off lottery tickets. You win a sampler of mascara and eye shadow primer once, and it keeps you coming back for more.

Now there’s a site that combines these two things. It’s called Poshly, and for each quiz you fill out you gain an entry into a sweepstakes of your choice. It connects beauty consumers with beauty producers through data. The more questions you answer, the more relevant they become to your personal beauty lifestyle. It was love at first click for me, but winning this Rouge Louboutin Nail Polish after a few tries made this what I’m sure will be a lasting relationship.

If You Ever Need an Excuse Not to Smoke

Please don't smoke graphic.

I’ve seen a lot of anti-smoking ads, and learned a lot of reasons smoking is bad for you, but this video really drives the message home. It’s a vine that shows a healthy lung inflating, followed by a smoker’s lung inflating. While you may hear that tar can change the lung black, and make breathing like sucking through a straw. In this case, after reading this post on Flash by Self, seeing really is believing. Even if it’s not 100% medically accurate, at least it gets the message across that smoking sucks, right? Right.

Craving Cake? Mind Your Microbes

Craving chocolate cake? It could be your gut.

A recent study in BioEssays, that I read about on Women’s Health, found that the microbes that live in your stomach prefer fat, and others prefer sugar. If you have more of one kind or the other, they could send signals to your immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. Those messages can influence you to pick a piece of chocolate cake over a bag of chips. The microbes manipulate you, and certain kinds can cause cancer, obesity, or diabetes. But luckily, the microbiome is influenced by what you eat, and can turn over within 24 hours of changing your diet or taking probiotics. At least now you know that it’s not totally your will power abandoning you, but tons of tiny things in your stomach undermining it.