In keeping with last year’s tradition, albeit a bit belated, here’s what I’ve been up to in the past 12 months:
Greater Good Science Center
Last year, I was writing my first article for the Greater Good Science Center as part of a year-end scientific roundup. This year, I coordinated the production and publication of this roundup as GGSC’s new editor and web producer. (I might have traveled halfway across the globe in 2015, but this journey was definitely my greatest of the year.)
Now, I work full-time with an amazingly warm and thoughtful group of coworkers, who somehow agreed to let me work from Toronto and take quarterly trips to Berkeley. Every day, I get to think up articles, write and edit them, and continue my education in the science of happiness. I consider it a dream job.
The Year of Happy
Before I started the new job, by far my biggest undertaking this year was to produce and run The Year of Happy, a free online happiness course, on my website The Positive Psychlopedia.
Nearly 1,500 students signed up to receive weekly content – in the end, a full book’s worth that I produced by consuming about 35 psychology books and days’ worth of YouTube videos. It was a massive project that gave a sense of growth and meaning to 2015 for me; I can only hope that I’ll learn so much every year.
2015 started right in the middle of a big nine-month trip, where we literally circumnavigated the globe (with stops in Europe and Asia). During the 2015 portion, we visited or lived in seven countries: Thailand (2 months in Chiang Mai), Indonesia (3 months in Bali), Hong Kong, the US, Spain (1 month in Madrid), Portugal (1 month in Lisbon), and Canada (4 months in Toronto).
Our travel highlights included:
Attending the Flower Festival in Chiang Mai
Chatting with a Thai monk
Driving up to Mount Batur in Bali
Seeing the sunset over Tanah Lot Temple in Bali
Finally going to Ocean Park in Hong Kong
Eating porras (better than churros!) in Madrid
Hiking up to São Jorge Castle in Lisbon
Vising Belem in Portugal
Canada doesn’t quite count as a foreign country for me now, though, because…I’m officially a permanent resident! After about 10 months of waiting and an emergency trip to the Australian embassy in Bali, I can now settle in Canada as long as I like. Nice, eh?
While we were in Bali, we heard about a diet coach who was offering a discounted eight-week fitness coaching program to people who were willing to give feedback and testimonials for his new platform. Fred and I signed up together, a little trepidatious but eager when the amazing Neil suggested we might see enough improvement for before-and-after photos.
So that’s how I found myself performing bench presses, drinking protein shakes, and swearing off carbs (except on Sundays) in Bali. Even though I’ve long been a healthy eater and regular exerciser, the difference was soon noticeable – and I’m still weightlifting now.
Neil also turned us on to the merits of vegetable juicing, and we’ve been drinking a mostly-vegetable concoction almost every day since July.
Perhaps because I studied the growth mindset this year, I was bold and brave enough to pick up a bunch of new hobbies and be terrible at them in the beginning. They included:
Knitting, taught to me by a young Balinese mom
Motorbiking, with Fred patiently (and perhaps foolishly) serving as my passenger and driving coach
Surfing, where I had a proud first day out the water and barely got up on my second
Ballet, including a couple classes in Berkeley and a seven-week beginner class in Toronto
It may seem strange to have a whole section on cats, but I think I truly embraced my love of kitties in 2015. When I initially had the idea to volunteer at a cat shelter in Bali, it didn’t seem like “me.” Luckily, a few kitten cuddles and lots of purring changed my mind. Fred and I both ended up going to Villa Kitty in Bali twice a week, and we have lots of warm and fuzzy memories because of that:
My dad had toyed with the idea of getting a cat this year, but never followed through – so when I arrived home two days before Christmas, I headed straight to the shelter with my brother and picked out a cat for him. Seven-month-old Sinclair may have spent his first afternoon in our closet, but after two days he transformed into the purriest, cuddliest cat I’ve ever met:
New Year’s resolution
This year, perhaps because I’m happier, perhaps because I’ve fallen under GGSC’s influence, my resolution is all about love. Yes, it sounds cliche, but I want to be better at loving myself, loving Fred, and loving my friends (the old ones and the yet-to-be-made) in 2016. I’ve turned inward for so long, and now it’s time to turn outward.
Happy New Year,