Category: Blog

The Secret To Happiness

The American Dream tells us we are free to pursue happiness, but doesn’t give us instructions.  Even life-changing events such as winning the lottery have been shown (Brickman 1978) to only increase happiness in the short-term.

The secret to long term happiness is a concept that seems too sacred to be studied and dissected. However, many researchers devote themselves to this topic, and this paper by Sheldon and Lyubomirsky presents a nice theory about sustainable happiness.

This elusive goal is difficult, and may be impossible. Many past studies have shown that each person has a base level of happiness which they can only deviate from temporarily. Even more unfortunate, is that this base level of happiness is 50-80% inherited.

The researchers in this paper divided events that increase your well-being into: activity changes (intentional acts such as exercising) and circumstantial changes (such as being assigned a great roommate). They performed 3 studies on psychology students who had recently experienced an increase in well-being. These studies showed that sustainable happiness was only possible through activity changes. Intentional changes resulted in a bigger boost in happiness and more varied experiences.

After a period of time, those who experienced the increase in well-being because of an activity change retained their increase more than those who experienced the increase because of a circumstantial change. The ones who became happier by chance became accustomed to the change and were no longer affected by it.

There is no shortcut — effort and hard work are the best route to happiness.

Sheldon, K & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). Achieving sustainable gains in happiness: Change your actions, not your circumstances. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 55 – 86.

Hard Drive Failure Statistics at Google

Statistics about hard drives from Google’s data centers were published in USENIX, showing how different variables affect the failure rate of hard drives. AFR is “Annual Failure Rate”.

The older drives may be failing more simply because they are a less advanced batch.

Low, medium, and high specify the usage.

Surprisingly, 35-45 degrees C is the sweet spot for hard drives. Colder temperatures actually cause them to fail more.

SMART will catch about half of hard disk failures before the happen, but many drives will fail without any warning.

Pinheiro, E., Weber, W., & Barroso, L. (2007). Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population. Proceedings from FAST ’07: USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies, 5

Americans Getting Lonelier

Back in 1985, the General Social Survey reported that Americans had an average of 2.94 nearby buddies (confidants is that the expression researchers prefer to use). A recent poll from 2004 found that the amount of confidants has fallen to 2.08. To put it differently, Americans have dropped on average one buddy with whom they discuss significant things. The connections with the largest fall in confidants were neighbors and group/club members. We’re less than half as likely to have them close friends today than in 1985. It is really unfortunate because everybody can use more friends. The research implies that the use of our social media has transformed this. Rather than a couple of strong ties, we’ve got more weak ties.

Americans are not as likely to have buddies with another education type, but more inclined to have friends of another race. Additionally, educated Americans have bigger and more varied networks. That being said about the friends you make during your school years — I found that my closest friends are out of internships and school.

McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Brashears, M. E. (2006). Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades. American Sociological Review, 71, 353-375.

People Take on the Traits They Describe in Others

Spontaneous trait transference is a happening in which individuals are perceived as owning a trait they explain in others. Telling others your mathematics professor is idle will make them infer that you’re lazy. This works the other way also — describing positive features about your friend might ascribe you those characteristics also.

Several experiments demonstrated that individuals will associate character traits to communicators mindlessly without plausible honest. They also have a poor recollection of if the trainee was describing themselves or somebody else at a dialogue.

So be cautious when gossiping about a co-worker, lest you be viewed as exactly what you describe. And should you would like to look more charming, maybe you may add that phrase into your vocabulary when speaking about others.

As the old expression goes,”If you can not say anything nice, do not say anything at all”.

Skowronski, J. J., Carlston, D. E., Mae, L., & Crawford, M. T. (1998). Spontaneous Trait Transference: Communicators Take about the Qualities They predominate Others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(4), 837-848.