Courtney Martin gave a TED talk on how we can live with a new American Dream. She calls it the new better off:

For too long we’ve pretended that happiness is a king in his castle. But all the research proves otherwise. It shows that the happiest, healthiest and even safest… are Americans who live their lives intertwined with their neighbors.

The New American Dream on and The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, both released in September 2016.

Have you said something nice to someone in the past day?  Do so, whether online or in person.  Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it.

Have you moved your body to music in the past day?  If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song.

Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days?  If not, do so.  Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets.  Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them.

From Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay.

Post image for The beauty in Scrublands

Antoine Bruy’s “Scrublands” photo series draws from his experiences WWOOFing around Europe meeting farmers, homesteaders and herders who decided to drop out of city life. He wants to continue his photo project in the USA. “I guess there are many people like this in America,” Antoine says.

To move forward in life, we have to put down our Duckies — or lay aside our old habits. -Betty A. Queen

Sesame Street song circa 1990.

shipMaria Popova makes a list of 7 lessons learned from 7 years of writing. I won’t re-post the whole thing here but it’s worth a read because it’s as much about living well than it is about having a successful blog.

She also writes that we need storytellers to help us navigate today’s sea of knowledge. “More and more information without the proper context and interpretation,” she says, “only muddles our understanding of the world rather than enriching it.”

Information is having a library of books on shipbuilding. Knowledge applies that to building a ship… Once you’ve built your ship, wisdom is what allows you to sail it without sinking.

A great storyteller is the kindly captain who… brings us somewhat closer to the answer, to our particular answer, to that grand question: Why are we here?

From Wisdom in the Age of Information on YouTube.

Ten years ago, Cornell Professor Robert H. Frank wrote about How not to buy happiness (pdf):

Considerable evidence suggests that if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods — such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job — then the evidence paints a very different picture. The less we spend on conspicuous consumption goods, the better we can afford to alleviate congestion; and the more time we can devote to family and friends, to exercise, sleep, travel, and other restorative activities. On the best available evidence, reallocating our time and money in these and similar ways would result in healthier, longer — and happier — lives.

via Kottke

Keri Smith is an artist who works with things that happen to be available:

If you get into that habit of experimentation, then it starts to get bigger and bigger, the habit grows and then it translates to bigger things. So you become more willing to try new things in all kinds of realms.

Bricolage by Keri Smith on Vimeo