Sunday, September 12, 2010

keeping busy and finding success

I have been working hard on my food blog recently and it's taking up a lot of my time, but in a nice way. I feel like I'm actually doing something with my life instead of just wasting away. I don't even consider myself excellent in the kitchen, but I do love food and I do enjoy making food. I have had some little successes already, having had a photograph accepted by Photograzing (you can see it here) and I have just discovered that if I google certain keywords, I can see my blog pop up in the results - for example, I've managed to squeeze in to the first page of Google results with a search of "chanterelle omelette". Considering my first food blog post was less than two weeks ago, I am pretty happy with all these developments. Hopefully the good run will continue!

These are a few of the things I think really helped me so far:

Content and equipment:
I try to keep my writing conversational and, hopefully, interesting and/or informative. I have a nice little Canon S90 camera, which isn't a DSLR but does have manual settings and can take pretty good pictures. I am still learning to use it, and I think I'm getting better at it. I try to keep my page easy to navigate and not too cluttered.

I did my research before getting a camera, and I am really pleased with it. In terms of content, I do research too, as I like experimenting with new ingredients and I find it helps to ask the purveyor to tell me more about something I'm interested in using, as well as reading up on it online. I've also taken it upon myself to learn a few things about how to use online social communities and SEO (search engine optimization), etcetera, to reach a wider audience. Also, I am not very knowledgeable with design, widgets, HTML and the like - I'm working on being more familiar with those, as I know my blog is still lacking in many aspects.

Support from family and friends:
It so happens that my boyfriend is a photography buff, and he has been teaching me how to get the most out of my camera, which is wonderful. He has also brought out his DSLR and personally contributed one or two pictures when I wasn't as happy with the ones I took myself. My family has been following my blog, and my friends have been coming up to me telling that they have been reading it, which I truly appreciate. All of these things spur me on.

There are still many challenges ahead, and many things to learn. The journey has been fun and exciting so far, and I hope it will continue to be!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

my favourite cat

This is my cousin's cat, one of the many things that bring warmth and happiness to my life. I think he's absolutely gorgeous. I just want to squeeze him! Sigh.

dozing off... tres adorable.

Friday, September 3, 2010

exciting times

I've neglected this blog a little over the past several days, but here I am again! So here are the things I've been up to...

After receiving my Canon S90 in the mail about a week ago, I've been experimenting with it and I think I'm getting better at using it already! So we may see some photographs on this blog soon.

I've also started another blog (with a focus on food) where I've already put my new camera to good use - I am just slightly apprehensive about juggling two blogs at the same time, but we'll see how it goes. My reasoning for keeping things separate is that if I were to include food posts in this blog, there would be so many devoted to those that they would overwhelm the other subjects.

I also had an interview at work today for an internal position, which I think went quite well. I don't think I would mind too much if I don't get it, but if I do it should be interesting to have that change in scenery.

I talked about productivity and persistence only a couple of weeks ago, and it would appear that, spurred on by my own musings, I am both consciously and subconsciously making changes to my life already, going by these recent developments. So yes, exciting times indeed!

Monday, August 23, 2010

happy coins are not difficult to come by

Over the past week or so, I chanced upon a few happy coins - little moments that added an extra glint to my days, and I am sharing them with you here.

1) Being recognized at the newsagency and having my usual purchase anticipated - a nice reminder that living in an inner city suburb does not preclude me from the human element, nor a sense of community.

2) Getting my Berlitz Japanese phrase book from The Book Depository - I made a few online purchases lately and have since been obsessively checking the mailbox. It's great when something finally arrives!

3) Sitting on a tram on my way home, looking out the window and being the recipient of the smiles and waves of an enthusiastic little girl on another tram on the other side - a cute connection that eased the fatigue of a long day.

Did you pick up any happy coins lately?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do you have a default level of happiness?

If happiness really is 50% genetic and 50% external factors as some studies have suggested, and you subscribe to the hedonic treadmill theory, what does this mean for the pursuit of happiness, and what do we make of the 50% over which we have some measure of control?

Based purely on personal experiences and observations, I am inclined to believe that there could be something to the notion of a default level of happiness, based on the combination of a genetic baseline for happiness and a constant re-balancing of our mental and emotional states. Over the years, major isolated events have brought about about spikes and plunges in my moods and feelings, but it does seem that my contentment levels always eventually return to a familiar balance.

Involving oneself in worthwhile activities and goals - what is considered 'worthwhile' is subjective to the individual, of course - should increase levels of happiness beyond what has been given genetically, however if you throw in hedonic adaptation as well, achieving more will not necessarily ensure a substantial difference in your general happiness. Call that the happiness equivalent to lifestyle inflation, if you will.

Now this might all sound a little depressing, but in some ways I actually find it quite comforting, and here's why: extrapolating from the above, happiness may not necessarily be related to how much you can accomplish according to traditional or societal parameters but may, however, be elevated and then maintained through doing what you love - which I consider a success in itself. Now that's something worth feeling happy about!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can productivity and persistence be the key to more happiness?

If someone were to ask me if I am happy, my answer would probably be, "I think I am." However, my life isn't quite perfect, and I take personal responsibility for a big chunk of that - I know I have to make more effort and take more risks to live it to the fullest.

One of the things that has been bothering me for awhile is the feeling that I should be more productive. I simply haven't achieved very much in the 28 years of my life. I have always been a little lazy, and I don't fight for what I want nearly as often as I should. I have had my moments - but they were far and few in between. I also find it difficult to sustain my enthusiasm levels, and it takes a lot for me to keep working on one objective when another pops up.

So... where am I going with this? Firstly, one of the aspects I want to change about my life is the lack of productivity - and I think maintaining a blog will help address that. I enjoy writing, so it's a good start. Secondly, I need to learn to stick to things that are worthwhile, and again, I plan to achieve this by continuing to share my ideas, whether it be on this blog or elsewhere (yes - there is the multiple objective thing rearing its naughty head again!). So wish me luck! And persistence, too. :D

Sunday, August 15, 2010

depositing my first happy coin

I enjoy writing, and have wanted to nurture a blog of my own for awhile now, but I wasn't sure what my main focus should be. I wanted to write about the things that pique my interest and bring me joy - so I considered a blog about food, music, health, finance, travel... the list went on, and I didn't think I could incorporate all of this into one blog, until the idea for a happiness bank came to me today at work. This blog would be my happiness bank, and in it I would philosophise about happiness and cultivate contentment. I would lovingly deposit the things that give me pleasure, watch them grow, and, hopefully, those of you who stumble upon my humble little abode will come away from it a little happier, too.