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Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Letter 

The wonderful thing about being both lazy and a blogger is that I can write this Christmas letter to you on Christmas Eve, and you'll still all get it in time for Christmas!

This has been a weird year. I could easily write it off as something like "the cat died, grandpa died, and I got fat and had a bad year of bike racing. Or I could talk about some of the stuff that didn't make it to the blog, which is even sadder, but I shan't, because there's a reason I don't blog some things.

But the point is, I'm not sad. It has not been a year of moving from high to high, but some nice things have happened. The Lovely One and I are doing okay, the nutdog is reasonably well-behaved and quite adorable, and we've both had interesting projects and plenty of work. Did I mention I haven't been fired yet from my day job? That's a pretty big deal right there.

But never mind that. The evidence is in: within broad parameters, externalities do not change your overall level of happiness very much or for very long.

This sounds like my own intuitive sense of how happiness works, so I am easily swayed by the argument. Yet in the subject of happiness, I also find myself reaching towards Aristotle, referenced in the Wikipedia:

From the observation that fish must become happy by swimming, and birds must become happy by flying, Aristotle points to the unique abilities of man as the route to happiness. Of all the animals only man can sit and contemplate reality. Of all the animals only man can develop social relations to the political level. Thus the contemplative life of a monk or professor, or the political life of a military commander or politician will be the happiest.

Hm. We feel happiest when involved in something with which we have some skill and practice? Gord? Yep, it's our old friend flow making an appearance.

So if I have a not-very-seasonal message for you, it's that whether as consolation or horrid fate, you're probably always going to be about as happy as you are. If you want to fulfill your potential, find a worthwhile activity, and Flow into it. Do it for ten thousand hours and maybe you'll get good at it.

You need a seasonally appropriate message? In the last hundred years, nobody has been more clear on the subject of Christmas than Charles Schulz. And his quote on the script of the Christmas special ("if we won't do it, who will?"), might serve as a personal motto, except that I already have one ("verum de parvis, verum de magnus").

So it's time for me to go to Midnight Mass, so I sign off. Have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy, Flow-y New Year. My gift to you is this take on Pachelbel's Canon:


Via: VideoSift

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