The Surprising Science of Happiness

by admin on February 10, 2016

I enjoy TEDTalks and this one by Dan Gilbert really gives you something to think about in regards to happiness.

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong — a premise he supports with intriguing research. Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

Perhaps this is why entitled people, like Bridezillas, never really seem happy despite getting what they want.

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The Silent Bean Dip

by admin on February 9, 2016

After years of reading stories on Etiquette Hell, I am very familiar with ‘bean dipping’ to direct conversations away from topics you have no interest in discussing. A co-worker I recently befriended has another tactic.  If you ask her a question she doesn’t want to answer (and she’s very private, so there are many questions that she doesn’t want to answer), she will just fall silent and not answer it.  If you’re having a conversation with her in person and ask her a question she doesn’t want to answer, she will just stare at you until you say something else.  If you’re on the phone, it’s like the phone has gone dead.  And I’m not referring to  deeply personal questions. Something as simple as, “What are you doing for lunch?”, might be met with a silent stare. It’s certainly effective but, in my opinion, there’s an element of rudeness in not responding at all. I believe that, while no one is obligated to answer my questions, the norms of conversation dictate that I should get some kind of response. This hasn’t happened in a while because we’ve gotten friendly, but a part of me is waiting eagerly for it to happen again so I can just stare back at her and see what happens next. I wanted to get some EHell feedback. Do any of you do this or had it happen to you? Is there a social expectation that you respond to questions, even if you decide not to answer them directly? 0205-16

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Political Curmudgeon Sours The Experience

by admin on February 3, 2016

I’ve kept this particular submission in the “hold” folder for quite some time while I pondered whether to include the real name of the alleged offender or edit it out.   I finally decided to edit it out.

I am very politically active in my local area; I have previously done door-to-door volunteer work for the municipal-level party, as well as some phone banking at county HQ, and I receive many invitations to rallies, committee meetings with bigwigs, and so on and so forth. In 2008, as the infamous presidential primaries were starting to wind down, I was invited to a rally at the county’s party headquarters in honor of my Congressman (who is a gentleman and a warrior) and his primary Senate run, which coincided with the day of the final presidential primaries.

I put on my best casual clothes, tied my hair back, and drove to HQ. All the TV stations from across the river had sent their vans to HQ, and they were milling about interviewing people and people watching. Most of the people present were dressed ranging from street clothes to business casual, excepting mayors, assemblypeople, state senators, committee members, and other elected and/or party officials, who were in their suits, and, where necessary, ties. I met local news anchor  and got my photograph taken with her; she was incredibly nice and good humored. We talked for a few moments and shook hands before she went back to her job. One of the volunteers informed all of us that there would be food served in an outdoors pavilion within the next ten minutes, and that the actual rally would start a little later afterward. I didn’t expect catering beyond the soda, wine, and cold cuts I’d previously enjoyed at other functions, so I got in line.

And who was behind me in line? Nobody but the big political boss himself. This man, while having no office himself, elected or appointed, pulls many of the political strings in the region, and having him behind me was, to say the very least, intimidating. The food service wasn’t open yet, so I looked up at him and gave him a sheepish smile, extending my hand.

“Hello Mr. XXXXX, it’s an incredible honor to meet you.”

He gave me a look that was a cross between catching me keying his car and not being impressed, and didn’t bother raising a finger in return. I swear I could have heard him snort. He then chewed his bottom lip slightly as though I had committed some unforgivable sin. Apparently in the moment this all occurred, food service had started, when I heard him cough the following.

“Well, are you hungry or not?”

Initially, I was embarrassed at my unwittingly holding up the line, but when I turned around to face the food service volunteers, they were as mortified as I was. Mr. XXXX did not intimidate me anymore, but for all the wrong reasons. He made some patronizing small talk about the food selection but I simply nodded in reply, dished up my share, and then sat as far away from him as possible, which admittedly wasn’t too difficult. He sat at another table surrounded by two or three other men similar in age, apparently wanting to keep other commoners away from his sphere of presence. Oh the horror.

Ultimately, my Congressman lost his bid for the Senate primary, though all present were relieved the presidential primary battle was finally concluded. As soon as the losing news hit, I didn’t even stay to meet my Congressman (I had not met him at the time), as the sour taste in my mouth from my earlier encounter with Mr. XXXX lingered, so I went home.

Safe to say though, since that incident at HQ, I haven’t been back to HQ for anything but sign collection and/or return. Mr. XXXXX even had the gall to try and harass me into patronizing his favorite charity through various mailings. For some reason the fundraiser and rally invites have all but stopped too. Hmm. At least his brother and everyone else in this party doesn’t view me as a lowly peasant. Every other person in this organization has helped me out in some way, from work on Election Day to Senate gallery passes and a tour of the Capitol for me and my mother, but not the boss man. What a snooty grouch. Our party’s emblem may be a jackass, but its downstate leader sure is a horse’s you know what. 0108-11

My opinion on the situation is that the OP allowed the actions of one person to negatively affect her perspective on her political party and her favorite candidates and even her enjoyment of volunteering.   Just because Mr. XXXX was an inhospitable curmudgeon shouldn’t have deterred her from introducing  herself to the candidate.   I do, however, relate to feeling marginalized politically when I attended a fundraising  BBQ for a candidate running for the US Senate.  I should note that this was the first political fundraiser event I have ever attended and probably my last.    My perception was that unless I was a big dollar donor, my value to the candidate was low and therefore my thoughts on certain issues were not worth spending the time to hear.  He did not win election to the office he was running for.

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A Little Neighborliness Goes A Long Way

by admin on February 1, 2016

I thought I would share a story of good news, an example of how to do etiquette right!

Some back story, my husband and I were living at and working for a charity organization. A couple years ago the organization closed down and last year we were given notice to close down everything of the organization and move off the property. Just before this notice came in, my husband lost his job he had outside the organization. So with little time, little money (because everything was devoted to the charity) and no job, we suddenly had to move.  We moved into the basement of husband’s parent’s house. In the rush to get everything done and move from a large house to a tiny space, some stuff was left behind.

Fast forward to last week, our area has too many people, not enough jobs and many businesses looking to save a buck so not paying living wages, as a result, our temporary living in the basement is still going a year later because husband hasn’t been able to get a job.  He gets a temporary job with a long commute and then we get hit with a big snow storm. And it looks like one of the things left behind was our snow shovel. I knew the storm was coming so I tried to go buy a snow shovel since we live on a hill. However, husband has our only vehicle out trying to earn a bit of money, so by the time I get to the store all the snow shovels are sold out.

Sunday, we’re able to get his parents vehicle out to go run a much needed errand for them but when we return we can’t get their vehicle back up the hill. It would also be unsafe for husband to drive our vehicle down the hill the next morning and the nature of the errand made parents vehicle not something he could borrow to get to work. The boss at the temp job says they are working Monday morning so he doesn’t want to call in and say he can’t get to work because they may just replace him with another temp.  We figure no way around it, we’ll just have to use whatever makeshift stuff we can find to clean off the driveway. So we start chipping away at the ice with whatever is on hand. Then the neighbor across the street steps out and sees us and says she has a snow shovel, would we like to borrow it. Husband and I try to hide our desperation and respond, “yes please, if you don’t mind, that would be wonderful!”. She tells us to keep it as long as we need and we get to work.

We were able to clear the driveway enough for husband to get out safely the next morning and me to get parents vehicle back where it needed to be, purely because we had her snow shovel.  As soon as we finished with the shovel I returned it to her and the next day took her a thank you note and some home baked cookies.

I know some have been blessed with nice neighbors and this may not seem like something all that big but I could probably count my history of nice neighbors on one hand and have fingers left over. And I say that as someone who has moved well over 20 times. Most of the time we’ve done good to be ignored by neighbors. On the bad side we’ve had neighbors who sold drugs or even tortured and killed our animals. So a neighbor who volunteers to lend us something that helps us out in a bad situation is a nice change as far as I’m concerned!  0127-16

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Feel Good Friday – Toy Cat Organ

by admin on January 29, 2016

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When Children Are Better Behaved Than Adults

by admin on January 21, 2016

All too often, E-hell is chockful of stories of terribly behaved children and their even more ill-mannered parents who pay them no mind while their special snowflakes wreak havoc on unsuspecting and innocent bystanders. This is the opposite of this, a story of traveling with 2 very young children who behaved well and providing them with ample supervision and adults behaving badly.

A few weeks ago, our small family (2 parents and 2 young children, aged 4.5 and 16 months) traveled across the country on a vacation. My DH and I put a lot of thought into planning the trip and our stay to maximize not only our children’s comfort and our own but to be of least nuisance possible to others around us. We booked a direct flight to avoid the hassle of boarding and deplaning multiple times with young kids, and we timed the flight around lunchtime on a weekday to maximize the chance of our kids taking a nice long nap mid-air (they typically nap right after lunch) and to minimize the annoyance factor for busy business travelers who typically fly early in the morning or other vacationers who typically travel on the weekend. We talked to our preschooler and our toddler about the trip, packed ample snacks, books and toys and even put together small packages of toys from the dollar store that they would be surprised with on the plane. A tablet was charged up and prepared for viewing cartoons, and all of our supplies packed according to FAA guidelines and those of our airline. We arrived at the airport early, checked our luggage curbside, went smoothly through the security lanes (it helps to be over prepared to not slow down what is already a cumbersome process), and arrived at our gates. The airline that we traveled (Southwest) does not assign seating; it assigns boarding groups. In the past, families with young children or those requiring additional assistance were allowed to pre-board; however, presently, you have to rely on your boarding position. Fortunately, by nature of arriving fairly early, we had one of the first boarding positions. When boarding was announced, we went to stand next to a sign for our numbered boarding position, and found multiple middle-aged and older adults, boarding passes in hand jostling for position in front of us. Several of their boarding passes were visible, and their boarding positions were after ours. However, they would still jostle to get ahead of us as a family. We did not say anything to them and waited for airline personnel to intervene, which they, thankfully, did. These travelers looked visibly annoyed to be told to get back in line behind a family. In fact, one gentleman, who looked to be in his 60’s or thereabouts, shoved between my DH who was pushing our young daughter in the stroller, and me who was walking hand-fast with our son, shoved my hand out of the way (I was holding out all of our boarding passes to the gate agent) and pushed his boarding pass in front of the gate agent. He made it to the gate 2 whole feet in front of us.

Once we were on board the plane and seated, another middle-aged gentleman in the row in front of us, turned to me and said, “Your kid had better not kick my seat!” He was still in the process of sitting down and stowing away his carry-on, but he just assumed that a preschooler was going to kick his seat. I said, “Don’t worry, we’ll keep our eye on him”, thinking that this would be the end of that conversation, when the gentleman said, “You better”. (Really, was that necessary?) My son turned to me and said, “Mommy, why is that man yelling at me?” I said, “You did not do anything wrong. He is making a bad choice. You don’t have to worry about why he made a bad one, as long as you make good choices”.

The kids did wonderfully well on the plane. They ate lunch and fell asleep soon after take-off (no kicking the seat, either). Our son was in the window seat, I held our daughter in the middle, and my DH was in the aisle seat. The kids napped for most of the trip, and when they woke up, they watched videos, and we read books, ate snacks and played with toys. No screaming, no running around hollering, no disturbing other passengers. Same story on the way back, when we were returning from vacation. Again, the middle-aged adults jostling for position to avoid being stuck boarding a plane behind the family (different adults this time). Then, nice long naps and good behavior. However, when the plane began to land, our daughter began to cry (she had been sipping water consistently at take-off and landing, but I guess, she was not sipping at that particular moment, so her ears popped). As soon as she started to cry (and I was holding, rocking and shushing her), a woman another row over said, “Shut that damn kid up”. Neither my DH nor I reacted (frankly, at that point, we had very low expectations for the adults around us). Fortunately, another passenger did. She told the woman, “The baby can’t help crying. You can help acting like a jerk”.

While our trip for the most part was lovely, and we enjoyed our family vacation, traveling left a bad taste in my DH’s mouth and in my mouth due to the outrageous entitlement from the Baby Boomer travelers we encountered along the way. We understand that people our parents’ age have long ago finished child-rearing and may have forgotten that babies cry on occasion, or that lugging kids, bags and a stroller across the terminal will make for slower moving than walking with a light carry-on, we went through the work of minding our children well and modeling appropriate behavior. It was disappointing to encounter entitled, spoiled and downright boorish behavior from the adults around us who we had expected to behave reasonably politely.

One final point, yes, there are rules of appropriate behavior that are important to teach to children and adhere to as adults. We abided by those rules. However, it seems that some adults not only believe that they are above or beyond those rules, but also that rules of politeness do not apply to children, or that children are not also, people who deserve respect, integrity and polite treatment. 1124-15

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Drive By Petting

January 20, 2016

BG:   We adopted a rescue dog about 8 or so months ago.  She was estimated to be five at the time, and the shelter said she had been abused.  Her behavior and quirks definitely seemed to verify that.  She’s a dachshund mix, a strange-looking adorable dog who weighs 35 or so pounds.  She’s very, […]

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Give Me A Hug, Famous Celebrity!

January 18, 2016

This happened at a party I attended recently. I was curious as to how someone else would handle the situation. The backstory is this. I live in an area known for a specific industry that involves a large number of celebrities. Many of them have large houses in the area and they tend to have […]

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