Tag Archives: Surroundings

How To Make Yourself Happy

There’s a growing body of thought that says happiness isn’t something that happens to you, but something you can go out and get, something you can create. Happiness isn’t a place, but rather a state of mind.

You can make yourself happy. If only you decide you want to do it, and find the right way to go about it.

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness. Her booksHappier at Home andThe Happiness Project were both instant New York Times bestsellers, and The Happiness Project has spent more than a year on the bestseller list.

At her blog, Rubin talks about ways she goes about researching happiness and testing out various theories in her own life. One of those ways is to take on a happiness project. That is, consider creating a plan to make yourself happy. People resolve to do things that will make themselves happy.

And, according to Rubin, the number-one thing that people resolve, the first thing that they say will make them happy once they start doing it is. . . making the bed.

Yes, really.

Now, it’s true that some people thrive on a little chaos. They find a disorderly room to be comfy and casual. When one of my friends was growing up, her mother made such a big deal of keeping the house clean that now my friend has gone far in the opposite direction. Very far. Most people, however, even if they may find it tough to keep things tidy, prefer to live in orderly surroundings.

It’s a Secret of Adulthood: for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.

You dudes have no idea how many times I’ve tried to drive this lesson home to the young dudes in the house. You should see their desks. Well, no, maybe you shouldn’t see their desks. They’ve been known to drive strong men to drink, less-strong men to scream and just-plain men to run into the night, even when it’s daytime.

“Why do I have to make my bed? It’s just going to get messed up again tonight.”

If your little dude or dudette is older than six or so, you’ve definitely heard that sentiment. And, yes, it will get messy again, but for the time it’s not. . . It’s as if theirs is a whole different room.

Rubin is right. When my bed is made, my room looks more open, less crowded, less like a cave and more like a space in which someone might want to live.

When my desk is clean and neat, I just feel better. I feel like I can get things done. Mostly because I usually use the excuse of straightening up to procrastinate when I’ve got work to do. Still, there’s nothing to beat that neat-desk feeling.

It’s something that really is difficult to get across to those young enough that they don’t understand it intuitively, as most adults do. Outer order contributes to inner calm. 

Give it a try. Even if you can’t get the little dudette in your life to do it right now, at least making your own bed will leave you feeling better, happier and more ready to face the day.

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Forest? What Forest?

by Richard

Am I wrong to be learning things from the dog? I’m hoping not because I think I have been acting the student to an organism that enjoys eating goose poop.

The other day I was walking with Buzz, the garbage disposal that walks like a dog, and he was having a grand old time. Seriously, the dude was happy as I’ve seen any dog. He had his nose to the ground and was running and sniffing and peeing, sometimes all at the same time. Like I said, his version of a great time.

As we were walking, well, more like I was getting towed by the leash, I actually had my head up and was paying attention to my surroundings. Which is why I saw the flock of Canada geese eating grass seeds about 50 yards down the road. Buzz, because he was so busy with his immediate surroundings, saw nothing.

The dog would love nothing more than to take off after that flock of Canada geese, scattering them to the four winds and barking his fool head off. But not that day. We kept getting closer and closer, but Buzz kept not noticing. Eventually, the geese took off into the air, leaving behind a dog that didn’t even know he was supposed to be disappointed.

The second time I was walking Buzz, I was the one not paying attention. I’d gotten bored just walking with the dog, so I pulled out my phone and started to read a book while I was walking. Which is why I never saw the really deep hole that happened to be right under my right foot.

I walked on, oblivious, and stepped into the hole. I pitched forward and fell onto my face, barely keeping from popping my knee into mush.

There’s an old saying about how you can sometimes miss seeing the forest because of all those trees in the way. That’s something very true. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what’s under our noses that we forget to pay attention to the wider world around us. Buzz taught me a little something, a reminder that what’s right next to us is not the sum and total of our existence.

That’s good advice. I don’t care if it came from a poop-eating dog.

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Dude Review: Divine Cupcakes And Yogurt Cafe

by Richard

Let’s start off with the most obvious pun: Yes, these cupcakes are divine.

I don’t know what it is, but suddenly cupcakes seem to be all the rage in the confectionary circles. There seems to be cupcake stores opening on just about every corner. Okay, maybe not every corner, but there are cupcake stores opening in a lot of places.

Maybe it’s because you can carry away a cupcake in your hands and eat it on the way to the car, as opposed to a cake, which must be carried carefully and eaten at home. Or maybe it’s just that cupcakes are delicious and wonderful and so very much fun. Or it could be that I’ve bought into the cupcake myth, but, oh, my, I do love the frosting and the cake. So, yeah, I’m just the right kind of mark to fall and fall hard for a good cupcake.

I guess I’m lucky, then, that Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe serves a darn fine cupcake.

Located at 1315 East Boulevard, Suite #170, Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe offers — oddly enough — cupcakes and soft-serve frozen yogurt in a variety of styles.

The first thing you notice when you walk into the Cafe is this is every bit the trendy, arty store you might expect to be newly opened in the Dilworth area of Charlotte. And it is. Opened less than a month ago, Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe has a wall devoted to local artists, arty cupcake sculptures hanging from the ceiling and a wonderful pop-art sensibility cupcaked to the walls.

But enough about the surroundings, let’s talk taste. The Cafe offers mini, regular and jumbo cupcakes at reasonable prices, both for the single fix and for multipacks. They also offer pull-apart cakes, that is, cakes made from cupcakes. Which means you can do away with the knife and just grab bits of the cake to eat. I can think of a lot of kids to whom this will be their idea of heaven. Not to mention a few adults who’ll be salivating just at the idea, much less the taste.

And the taste, which I sampled on my second, secret appearance (more about that later), is fantastic. They offer everything from the standard red velvet to berry cream cheese and Boston cream varieties. Check out the menu on their website.

The great thing about the Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe is in their name. Not only do they offer great cupcakes, they also have a rotating selection of soft-serve frozen yogurt and a bewildering selection of toppings to go with it.

This place gets the full-on dude recommend. It’s a great atmosphere, great cupcakes and great yogurt. Go eat there. Now. You’ll be glad you did.

And, as for the reason I had to go back a second, secret time? Well, that’s because the first time I went there, I was an invited guest. See, they were silly crazy uninformed nice enough to invite me there to read to a bunch of preschoolers. I guess no one learned after the Riot of ’09. But more  on that tomorrow.

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