#38 Earth

Best planet ever.

AWESOME!

Hey everyone,

The Happiness Equation is finally here! This is my brand new non-fiction book containing what I believe are the nine secrets to happiness. I have been working on it for years and it feels so good to finally share it with you. Check out the trailer, read the first two secrets, and, if you like what you read, please buy a copy!

Thank you so much for your support,

Neil

The Happiness Equation - Cover

Photos from: here, here, here, here, here, and here

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#39 That one super nice guy at work

Work can be stressful.

Big deadlines and late nights, tough customers and tough fights, and killer projects that mean try as you might, you can’t get it right. Toss in confusing plans and traffic jams and sometimes you’re spinning, gninnips, spinning, dizzy and alone, in cubicle unknowns.

That’s what makes that one really nice guy at work so great.

Now, down at my office we’ve got Sam The A/V Guy.

Sam’s a bit scruffy, smiles a lot, and wears unbuttoned polo shirts and running shoes every day. He sets up sound and video, makes sure conference calls work, but really … he does so much more. He asks about your weekend and swings by Monday morning to see how it went. He smiles and laughs in the hallway and puts everyone in a great mood. He says yes all the time and breaks through office clutter to remind us the world is a pretty simple place.

Smile lots, say hi in the hallways, and treat everyone the same.

Because at the end of the day the best leaders might not wear the sharpest suits, fanciest shoes, or pointiest ties.

More often than not they’re just the really nice guys.

I say when we look back on our lives, when the company goes bust, when the rat race is over, it’s that really nice guy we trust. So love him today, love what he says, listen to him forever, and make sure to tell him he’s

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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#40 The power of blankets

No offense fire, wheel, and printing press.

But blankets are the greatest technology ever invented.

Yes, there we were, running around naked in the plains — shivering in the rains, slipping in mud stains, losing heat from our brains — when one of our Cave Grandparents thought of just tearing off another animal’s fur and draping it over ourselves. Sure, maybe it wasn’t polite, but it sure did the job.

We used this new Blanket Technology for hundreds of thousands of years with literally no advances of any kind, except for chopping off the head, chopping off the paws, and the Snuggie.

To this day blankets offer us so much:

1. Instant protection. When you’re a kid blankets fend off monsters and prevent robbers from seeing you. Also, blankets give newborn babies a sense of security, warmth, and closeness that feels like the womb. Which is probably why most of us still sleep with a blanket every night … even when it’s hot out. We’re flailing, snot-smeared screaming babies without them.

2. Release the flame within. When I was a kid I didn’t realize our bodies were giving off heat until a teacher had us breathe into our hands to feel the warmth. We are all little fires — heating up rooms, beds, and planets. And blankets help us capture that heat and blow it back on ourselves. In a way, every piece of clothing we wear today is just a little blanket. Sure, they may be shaped into underwear, sweatshirts, and skullcaps, but they all started off as tiger pelts. Remember that.

3. Saving money, saving ourselves. Cranking thermostats drains our planet of natural gas, heating oils, and big buckets of coal. Since we don’t have enough to last forever a vote for the blanket is a vote for our future. And blankets don’t expire, fade away, or go bad. They don’t need outlets, batteries, or recharging. They just last a long time so we can last a long time too.

No offense fire, wheel, or printing press. Sorry computers, steel, and glass. No offense car, telephone, or microprocesser. But one invention has got you all outclassed.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#41 Fixing electronics by slapping them

My bedroom was above the kitchen growing up.

Late at night while laying in bed I would often listen to the creaks and cracks through the vents and floorboards. Oven burners wobbled and popped, distant thumps echoed through the furnace room, and the fridge cranked its whirring motor whenever it pleased.

It was always funny to me that during the day the fridge didn’t put up much of a fight. If it started clinking and whirring, you just pounded it with your fist and it would stop. One hard knee to the groin of the thing and it just sort of whimpered and stayed quiet.

Like The Fonz kicking the jukebox on Happy Days, Grandpa smacking the TV during Wheel of Fortune, or a bandana-clad mom shaking the washer when the heavy towel load gets it rocking, there is something great about fixing electronics by smacking them.

I mean, for once our instincts work. That doesn’t always happen in nature. Slap a bear on the snout when it’s picking through your backpack and you might get a friendly mauling. Pull your brother’s hair when he steals your Nintendo controller and you could find your toothbrush tossed in the toilet. But when the CD is skipping in the car, a friendly smack might do the trick, so how about that?

Also, it kind of makes you feel handy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know much about electronics. I have no understanding of how telephones work, how airplanes take off, or how radio signals go about their day. I have trouble putting the chain back on my bicycle, resetting the microwave, or starting the barbecue. You should see me out there, turning the gas on and off, tossing in matches and jumping away, half-expecting the whole thing to blow up.

But I’m not bad at smacking things. I can smack a computer, I can smack a dishwasher, and I’ve got a lot of experience if your fridge seems to be giving you trouble. So listen, if you’re with me on this one, throw your hand up for a smacking high five and give cheers to your inner handyman.

AWESOME!

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#44 Your first album

Straight up now tell me: What was your first CD?

Mine was “Forever Your Girl” by Paula Abdul which was gift-wrapped together with Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” as part of a Christmas present with my new mini-system. Yes, I was ten years old when the boxy Magnasonic arrived under the tree… and I can still remember those CDs vividly. Of course, that’s probably because we went through the four steps of New Record, Tape, or CD Love together:

Step 1: Plenty of fish. Checking posters at the record store, flipping through Columbia House catalogues, flipping through hundreds of plastic-tombed tapes, you’re single and looking for love. Maybe they had a listening booth but most likely you plucked your album based on a song or two from the radio … and the rest was a complete surprise.

Stage 2: The First Time. This is the sweetest stage. All alone in your room you have a quiet moment with your new disc. When you get frustrated with the shrinkwrap you start biting it till it eventually peels off and static-clings to your hand. Next you push the case open, hear the little squeaky crunch as you pull it out of the case, and then gaze at that mirrory scratchless rainbow purity. Quickly peel out the booklet to see what kind of artwork they included and whether the put the lyrics in. Then you put it into the player, hear it spin round, and hold your breath and push play…

Stage 3: Dating Steady. You can’t live without each other. You pop the tape into your Walkman and listen to both sides, both ways, every day. You stick the CD in your car stereo and jam to it every night on your way home. You start memorizing the lyrics, your brain starts hearing the next song after the last one ends, and you start telling everyone about the album…. This is also the stage when you rearrange your life around your new tape or CD. This means taking every other CD out of your dusty tower by your TV and reorder them all alphabetically.

Stage 4: Lost love. It’s not that the love didn’t last. It’s just that your heart moved on and your record or tape didn’t change. You dyed your hair and went punk, fell in love with someone into hip-hop, or maybe got strung out on Top 40 during your blurry Clubland days. Now your first CD or tape sits lonely at the bottom of a shoebox, garage sale pile, or closet. You stumble upon it again and pop it in for a listen down memory lane… with your brain still hearing the next song after the last one ends, the lyrics shooting back to you, and all the memories from that distant time in your life flashing through your brain. You can see the bedspread you sat on listening… see the posters on your wall… and hear your mom calling your for dinner…

Your first album calls back a day when records, tapes, and CDs meant something more. They weren’t just plastic rectangles in paper boxes… they were little keys to your thoughts, doors to your heart, and friends when you were lonely. Lyrics colored in your own feelings, choruses sent you flying away, twisted jams twisted your head around, and every part of it made you today….

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#45 When you see a huge dog sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car

What was your worst job ever?

Yes, we were chatting about bad jobs the other night and I said unclogging grease traps with my bare hands was at the top of my list. Pulling out that rusty Black Box of Death from under the triple-sink released a foul Rotting Meat Scraps From Six Months Ago stench that was seared forever in my brain.

Scott said his gig was worse: scraping out urinals at the bar he worked at in high school. Being the low man on the grill meant whenever someone created a horrible mess he was thrown a handful of paper towels and told to get to it.

We all thought Scott might have won the title but our friend Tyler said collecting shopping carts in the grocery store lot was worse. “Think about it,” he started. “There’s that constant search for lost carts, snapping them all into mate-mode, and then pushing the world’s heaviest Shopping Cart Train back inside without hitting anything. Rain, slush, snow, it doesn’t matter, you just freeze for hours and hours all by yourself.”

We sent Tyler’s argument to the Bad Job Jury for deliberation and it eventually got ruled out. Why? The jury argued that Cart-Picker-Upper Guy gets fresh air, good exercise, and the added bonus of laughing out loud whenever he sees big dogs sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car.

Yes, he gets to imagine that dog trying to figure out how to drive in case some killer disease wipes out the entire human population while his owner grabs milk and bananas. “It’s up to dogs now,” you can hear him thinking, gamely pawing the slippery steering wheel, staring at you with sad tired eyes. “Don’t just look at me… where’s the stupid emergency brake?”

Seeing a big dog sitting in the driver’s eat of a parked car is a loving sight — ranking with sunrises over glittery oceans, old people holding hands, and kaleidoscoping blue-green lights at the edges of the horizon. That’s because big dogs in driver’s seats are the car equivalent of a Friendly Pet Welcome at the front door. Except you can actually see the welcome about to happen through the glass.

So I say whether it’s pushing carts through snow and seeing adorable big dog faces, mopping dusty school hallways and catching little kid embraces, or spilling coffee in turbulence just to land in sandy new places — what we’re saying today is that every tough job has its silver linings, quiet pleasures, and hidden little sighting of

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#46 Clicking pens with unusually strong springs

Get clickin’.

There are three big ways the deed goes down:

1. The Non-Stopper. You’re mindless fiddling with a pen when you notice it’s got a great spring… so you start clicking it over and over again. Your brain gets into a rhythm with the sound so you click faster and faster and faster and faster until your thumb slips or you break the thing.

2. Mission to Mars. Here’s where you turn the pen upside down, push it into the table, close your eyes, and rocket launch it across the room. Make sure you look away casually so nobody fingers you in the police lineup later. Special points if your pen lands perfectly in your French teacher’s bun.

3. Part of the band. I love it when random noises star as percussion sections in impromptu jams in your Brain Garage Maybe it’s the guitar slide noise you get from your seatbelt while drumming on the car dashboard. Maybe it your windshield wipers adding rhythm to your car stereo. Or maybe it’s the clicking pen at the back of class while tapping your textbook and stomping your sneakers.

Twisting bubble wrap till it machine gun pops, cracking thinly frozen puddles, and pushing those little buttons on soft drink cup lids all scratch the same strange itch in our brains as clicking pens with really strong springs.

Do not question the

AWESOME!

Photos from: here and here

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