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happiness (203 posts)
The list is fascinating, in the way that it's always irresistible to peek inside a romantic relationship, to hope for a glimpse of that mysterious something that is invisible to outsiders. Peeking at the letters of lovers offers a hit of vicarious romance, and sometimes even a moment of shock (Mozart, please!). So read on. You just might get inspired to write to your own darling dear little lambie.
Love Letters to the World
The President You Least Expected To Be Romantic
Write a Letter to Your Latte-Maker
The end of summer—not unlike the arrival of a 40th birthday—always makes me think of time. June, July and August seem to move on their own emotional clock, one that has a few different speeds: slow when it comes to hot afternoons, quick when it comes to a week of vacation, lightning-fast when it comes to considering the season as a whole in those last few final days of its fruition.
A friend of mine named Sam once described the three months right after the birth of his daughter as both "fast and slow at the same time." I knew what he meant: everything stops for a newborn and everything blurs by. This is why time is so fascinating. Its progress is so brazenly dependent on how we experience it. It can suspend and race. It can sludge by and whisk by and vanish completely—concurrently. Which is why I so liked seeing this video I found on The Laughing Squid.
Note how the clip only lasts just over a minute. But it seems as if it lasts for much, much longer. Three whole fat balloons bounce by after all, over and over. If I were the kind of person who uploaded videos onto her phone, I would keep this one close by, for all those dark horrible moments when I realize that my son's birthday was nine—not two—months ago or that my mother sold our old house 20—not five years—ago, at which point I scream to myself "Wait! Stop! It's all going so fast!"
Because, as odd as it may sound, the water balloon may be the only rival to the human brain, when it comes to slowing down time. Be each rubber ball manipulated by cameras (as in: here) or tossed towards our heads (as in: the park), these wonderfully lumbersome, cumbersome objects make us realize just how long 60 seconds can last. All for the price of 5 cent a (sorry) a pop.
Martha Beck manages time
Ways to love your life before the end of summer
The site Spontaneous Smiley offers an online trove of unabashedly happy mugs in the least expected places. I defy you to look at the smiley gallery without cracking a smile yourself. In fact, I believe such a feat is physically impossible. Within a few moments you'll figure out that even cookies and car bumpers smile, even houses and haystacks. It's like the secular version of the Virgin Mary potato chip phenomenon. Before you know it, even the most mundane of everyday objects seems animated, friendly, imbued with a mysterious, goofy, affable life. Go ahead, join the hunt and upload your own found face, because here's the best news of all: for every photo uploaded to the gallery, the site donates a dollar to Operation Smile, which provides operations for children with facial deformities. By spotting a smile, you help make a new one. Pretty sweet.
Collecting Every Smile in the World
The Invention of the Smiley Emoticon
How Smiling Makes You Feel Better
Luckily, or maybe unluckily, I don't know many pirates (over the age of three, anyway). But we all have these everyday ethics conundrums. If we learn of a wrong done in the past, do we have the responsibility to report it (pirate-related or not)? Is it possible to be too tolerant of other peoples' religious practices? How much privacy do we allow people in the age of the Internet? Randy Cohen, The Ethicist of the long-running New York Times column, addressed these issues and more when he was on NPR over the weekend to discuss his new book, Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything. What struck me most was his claim that, despite our quickly changing world of social media and altered interpersonal communications, ethics themselves have not changed much over time. Etiquette changes; social mores shift. But whether you're a Googler or a gladiator, the basic line stays the same: When in doubt about how to act, be good. We all know (pretty much) what that means.
Listen to the whole interview to learn more about the book, "The Ethicist" column, and to find out which ethics question has provoked the most controversy in Cohen's career.
The Gazette reports that Michelle Rodenburg and Tonya Dusold agreed to spend a day "plugging expired meters, handing out gift cards, leaving quarters in candy machines and buying ice cream for strangers."
The longtime friends shared how their attempts to distribute quarters at a laundromat ran afoul when people started eyeing them suspiciously -- so they tossed a bag of quarters into a basket and ran away, laughing hysterically. Rodenburg said, “It’s just so simple. When I first told my husband about it, he said it was a great idea, but that we should be doing something like this all the time. It really makes a difference. You have no idea what kind of impact a kind gesture will have.”
We should be doing it all the time, odd looks in the laundromat be darned! Because let me tell you, just reading this story on the newspaper's website I encountered another news story so breathtakingly sad and awful I felt like I'd been socked in the stomach. Then I remembered what I was supposed to be doing and came back to these generous-hearted women and their fun day sharing ice cream and coins and kindness, and my gut unclenched and I remembered, Oh yeah. Things aren't that bad. Look at that! You have no idea what kind of impact you'll have. How true, how ridiculously, senselessly, eternally true.
Read the whole article for the "Pay it Forward" twist to the 30th-birthday-kindness spectacular, and for more ideas on how to spread the joy yourself.
A Dying Wish: Leave an Awesome Tip
Day-Brightening Acts of Generosity
What about you? How many useful life skills do you have? Do you know how to build a fire? How about without matches? Do you know CPR? Can you change a flat tire? Sew on a button? Give a speech? Even Cool has assembled a very helpful/shame-making list of 50 things everyone should know how to do. From jump-starting a car to cleaning your house to effectively flirting (it's very comprehensive), this list compiles skills every adult should have -- and of course, links to helpful articles from all across the Internet explaining how to do these very things. It's a list that should be bookmarked on every computer (don't know how to use a computer? It's on the list!), and emailed to everyone you know who's about to head off to college. Or grad school. Or, you know, another day at work.
A Father's Financial Tips for His Daughter
20 Questions That Could Change Your Life
I was reminded of the power of cuteness recently when my husband extracted our daughter from a weepy fit by showing her a photo of a baby sloth. She stopped mid-whine, transfixed. "Why are its eyes so BIG?" she asked, her eyes getting really big as she forgot all about her angst. Thank you, baby sloth!
We all have those moments, those afternoons that seem to stretch on forever, those bad moods that won't burst. The world is a beautiful place, right, whatever, yadda yadda, but sometimes you just need an instant happiness-dose, an injection of adorability shot right into your heart. In short, a flying baby.
Sure, most baby photos are pretty cute, but Rachel Hulin's otherwordly shots of her son flying in midair bring the cuteness to a new level of whimsy. This is surely the sign of advancing cuteness technology. And that's not all -- Hulin has a children's book, Flying Henry, coming out in the spring. You baby sloths out there better get your game up. (via Shine)
Is Your Baby As Cute As You Think?
The Cutest Animal Videos
Unlikely (and Adorable) Friendships
After hearing this summer about OWN's Thank You Game, reader Fatiha Occhialini wrote in to share her story of gratitude. In 2010 Occhialini learned about vision boards from the Oprah.com Spirit Newsletter. She created her own board, starting with a photo of the Great Wall of China, which she hoped to visit someday. Last year she traveled from her home in Philadelphia to Beijing and brought along her June 2011 copy of O. "The words thank you on the cover of the magazine were a daily reminder of how grateful I was to achieve my dream of walking the Great Wall!" she said.
Instead, something magical happened. The decrepit building, known as the Fred C. Baldwin Memorial Home, caught Xorin Balbes's eye one day as he surfed real estate listings on the Internet. Balbes, a noted designer, had previously restored other historic buildings to their former grandeur—and beyond. When Balbes looked at the Baldwin Home, he didn't think "teardown." He sensed its former loveliness, and even a hint of its gracious soul. "All I could see was possibility," Balbes says. "I saw what it was, and what it could be reborn as. I could visualize the entire transformation in my mind."
The result of Balbes's vision was unveiled last spring—a spiritual, educational, and health retreat that transforms the people who spend time there: Guests come away feeling deeply restored themselves. Looking at Balbes's before and after photos as we closed this issue made me think about the enduring power of transformation in our lives. "It's about honoring the past and the history that's there, but bringing in the present in a seamless way," Balbes says.
Transformation might mean something as simple as adding a fresh coat of eco-friendly lavender paint to your bedroom walls or adopting a new attitude. For eleven O staffers, it meant letting creative director Adam Glassman and his team bring out their inner best selves. "When someone feels transformed, I can instantly see it in their eyes," Glassman says. "They come alive." Helping Glassman with this lovely task was a deep bench of experts including hairstylist Ken Paves, eyelash specialist Soul Lee, and dermatologist David Colbert, MD.
"Transformation, to me, means working from the inside out," says Colbert, who cleared up staffers' skin problems, from lackluster complexions to rosacea. Colbert also embodies the power of transformation in another way entirely. Volunteering his medical services after Haiti's 2010 earthquake, he was overwhelmed by the number of amputations that had to be performed, especially on children. So he set out to make sure that anyone in Haiti who needed a prosthetic limb could get one. Raising money for prosthetics through his New York Dermatology Group Foundation, Colbert helped transform hundreds of lives.
Large or small, transformation means renewal. Bringing forth the essence—and full potential—of someone (or something) is doing a great big favor to the world. Lights that shine brighter illuminate us all.
Would you like to ask Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant for some advice? We've got another chance to take your virtual seat in the live taping of Oprah's Lifeclass. Oprah and Iyanla will be answering questions in real time—will yours be one of them? Find out more about the webcast here or by logging on to Oprah.com or Facebook.com/OWNTV Monday, August 13, at 11amET and 3pmET.