Literally, a Blog Post about Nothing, Part Two

Yesterday I wrote about my attempt to take an online quiz on well-being, but I never got the results.

That led me to write a blog post about, well, nothing.

I figured I check for my results one more time, and there was the email. It was in my daily quarantined email message, which summarizes all the emails that have been put into quarantine for the day. I rarely check that email summary, since it usually does a pretty good job capturing junk mail. (I’m not really sure why some emails end up in my junk mail folder, and some get classified as quarantined. Seems like it’s the same thing. Anyway…)

So when I reclassified the email as OK and opened up, I was assuming, and hoping for, one overall summary score that measured my well-being. Instead, what I got was a report that somehow took my answers, and came up with summary scores in seven different areas of well-being.

Here is the report I received. The scale is out of 10 points, with a higher number being better from a well-being perspective. I should also note that the comments for each rating below are from the survey, not from me. The same goes for the links for additional reading.

1. Positive Thinking


Positive thinking is another skill that tends to be highly correlated with happiness. Indeed, being able to see silver linings or be grateful for the good even when things aren’t going great helps us stay optimistic and happy. And good news: positivity is one well-being-boosting skill that’s fairly easy to build (assuming we actually want to build it).

Build this skill by reading: Positive Mindset: 17 Ways to Develop a Happier Mind

2. Stress


Stress is not only bad for our mental health, but it’s also bad for our physical health. We are capable of handling quite a lot of stress… until we aren’t anymore. I had to learn this the hard way and ultimately spent 2 years recovering from an illness largely caused by stress. I strongly recommend learning how to manage your stress before this happens to you.

Build this skill by reading: Stress Management: Definition, Techniques, and Strategies

3. Self-Confidence


My research consistently shows that self-confidence is the #1 best predictor of happiness. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, we may unintentionally sabotage our health and happiness. That’s why confidence is so important for our well-being.

Build this skill by reading: Self-Confidence: Definition, Affirmations, and Tips for Gaining Confidence

4. Resiliency


Sometimes life knocks you down—there is no getting around that. What really matters for your happiness is how easy it is for you to get back up. Developing emotional resilience keeps those challenges and hardships from overwhelming you. You’ll recover more quickly from difficulties and as a result, more of your days are happy.

Build this skill by reading: What Does Resilience Mean? Definition, Qualities, & Examples

5. Mindfulness


Now that we live in a high-tech world, we go through much of our lives on autopilot. As a result, we miss out on the best parts of being alive—positive experiences, connections with others, and even having fun. When you become more mindful and self-aware, you stop feeling so numb and are able to better enjoy everything your life has to offer.

Build this skill by reading: How to Live in the Moment: 14 Tips for Staying Present

6. Life Purpose


We all want our lives to feel like they matter. It can be tricky, though, to figure out what gives our lives purpose. By exploring what matters to us and taking action, our lives become more meaningful and satisfying.

Build this skill by reading: ​Life Purpose: What Is It and How to Find It

7. Healthy Relationships


Some of us think happiness comes from the things out there—money, possessions, and achievements. Others think that happiness comes from within us—thoughts, emotions, and personality. In reality, happiness exists in the space between us. Mostly, it arises from how we interact with our loved ones, community, and society at large. Perhaps that is why healthy relationships strongly predict both mental and physical well-being.

Build this skill by reading: Love Language Quizzes: Learn Your Love Language and Healthy Relationships: Definition, Characteristics, and Tips

Of all the results, the one that kind of surprises me the most is Healthy Relationships. While I have a few very strong relationships (my wife and sons), after that it kind of drops off. Maybe that’s all I need, but it seems like I should have a few more strong relationships.

At this point, I’m not sure what to do with the report in terms of actionable items. I’ll read the various suggested readings and see what they have to say and go from there.

But as always, the best thing to come out of these sorts of quizzes is a blog post…

P.S.: the first link for reading for number 7 is another quiz. But I think I’ll skip that one, or at least until I become desperate for a blog post…

*image from Berkeley Well-Being Institute

61 thoughts on “Literally, a Blog Post about Nothing, Part Two

  1. I’m looking at the categories and see that they all seem to be positive qualities except for stress. I will assume that a high score in that category means that you’re good at avoiding stress. What are your go-to methods for reducing stress?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always found that I feel good about any day that I start off with exercise. After that, I’ve also found watching sports or the King of Queens, as well as listening to music. Unfortunately, another way I handle stress is to start snacking. That usually kicks in when I am trying to come up with my daily blog post. A rational person would probably stop blogging every day in such a situation, but what can I say…

      what are some things you do to relieve stress?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exercise is now a part of my daily routine. I wish it didn’t take me so many years to get here, but better late than never. This is the closest thing I’ve had to the so-called runner’s high that I’ve heard about but never experienced. I always hated to run, though an arthritic knee and back don’t allow for much of that now. Sometimes I like socializing with friends when I walk, but at other times I appreciate the serenity of being alone. It allows me to focus on whatever I need to think about.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t run any more either, but I sed to love to do so. And if I am going for a walk for exercise, it is a solitary venture. But I’ll happily go on walks with my wife and son, but that is at a much more leisurely pace…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. As usual, my lack of clarity comes back to haunt me!

      the scale is 1-10, with 10 representing the highest score in terms of having a positive effect on well-being.

      based on the comments, I have gone in and edited the post to hopefully make it clearer!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on being such a happy guy. Do you agree with the results? I always feel skeptical about attempts to quantify happiness, although perhaps such attempts can at least point out areas we might want to work on. Also, they don’t seem to have a category for physical health. I think physical health plays an important role in well-being, and they could improve their survey by including it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think I am a reasonably happy, positive sort of guy, so I think the results reflect my own beliefs about my well-being.

      and I agree about the importance of physical health and it’s impact on well-being. That seems like it would be a beneficial addition to the quiz…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, at least we know you weren’t the subject of a secret psychological experiment. And overall, except for stress, I think you’re incredibly healthy. (Probably a lot more than I am.) Kudos to you.

    I agree with you about family being the most important close relationships. If you want a few more, I hope you cultivate good ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, that was good to know. and I think the stress score is measuring one’s ability to manage stress, so a higher score is better (on a scale of 1- 10)

      and yes, I am blessed with strong family relationships. I need to be more proactive about establishing a few more…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I just got the results lol

      Positive thinking: 9
      Stress: 5
      Self-confidence: 7
      Resiliency: 5
      Mindfulness: 7
      Life purpose: 10
      Healthy relationships: 7

      Overall, I think it’s quite accurate except where it scores my resiliency lol I personally think I’m very resilient, I’d score myself an 8 but 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️


      1. given your recent post about Standing Still, I would have thought your self-confidence, resiliency, and mindfulness would have been all 10s.

        I think you probably answered the questions more honestly that I might have 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I mean, I write stuff and intend to be that person and I’d say most times I am… But unfortunately I, too, sometimes fall off the wagon 😞

        Although, some ppl who know me well might see me as humorously very non-resilient lol

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well your scores look good to me, I think I took that quiz years ago with far lower results when I took

    Berkeley’s Happiness MOOC years ago. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot and I love their podcast and website too.

    But I liked Yales’ MOOC on Well-Being even more, tho it was a bit repetitive to Berkeley’s, I found Yale’s was better organized and its videos were better because instead of just talking heads it was filmed in a classroom with students all sitting around the instructor (Laurie Santos, who is fabulous) listening and asking questions.

    Since you’re an academic , maybe those MOOCs wouldn’t be AS interesting for you, but Yale’s Well Being class (since it went online) is its most popular course ever. I liked it so much I should probably take it again.

    Trying to be happy is a LOT of work and we all need boosters to keep the blues away. Both MOOCs give us lots of tools. Books are good too but from a MOOC you get this sense that you are “in a relationship” with the instructors and “classmates” via comment sections and exercises. Now when I hear either Dakar (prof from Berkeley or Laurie (prof from Yale) on NPR or on another podcast, I feel this little surge of pride: Hey! That’s “my” professor they’re interviewing!

    Yet even tho I’m pretty self-aware and aware of what I SHOULD do to improve my happiness, I forget. Still, sometimes just the tiniest bit of insight or a reminder of things I can do or read help when I’m struggling to handle my load. (Like your blog reminded me that this stuff is in my control, not the control of the things/people bothering me)

    You’re VERY fortunate to have your two primary family relationships be so strong. My household is a source of constant arguments/”disquiet” (My son can’t help it as his seizures have changed his once sunny personality to frustrated/angry/confused so that adds to the tensions)

    I read that the number one thing to look for in a spouse if you want a long, happy marriage is “agreeableness. ” I WISH I had that advice 25 years ago! omg Beware marrying a person who LIKES to debate/argue or “play devil’s advocate” too much … such verbal “sparring” over every little thing can eventually drive you crazy… disagreeable people only seem to get more disagreeable unless someone/something enlightens them. And emotions are contagious. Plus there’s the whole “enabling” thing if you don’t call out their argumentative nature which means YOU by definition become more argumentative too. And yes, there’s a good book for that! (Soar Above: How to Use the Most Profound Part of Your Brain Under Any Kind of Stress by Dr. Steven Stosny PhD)

    It would be great if everyone who is depressed/stressing others out could take a class on Well-being, and now they are free and readily available ONLINE … but of course most of us are sick of doing so much online since covid hit…and we can only change ourselves … we can suggest others read a book or take a MOOC but they have to have their own epiphanies (you can only lead a horse to water…. )

    And I read there’s even a german word for how we can become more UNHAPPY the more we try to be happy. (Google sent me down a rabbit hole trying to find that word for the depression that can result from selfhelp overload Selbsthilfe-Überlastung ??

    ANYWAY, your blog was not about nothing!!

    The MOOCs have a long list of good reading materials to choose from but the comradery of the Yale MOOC esp was way more uplifting and helpful than a good book, I think because you can literally see and hear people helping people in the videos vs just words on a page (or a blog post!).

    Thanks for sharing, as always 🙂


    1. Hi Susan. As always, thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      I did watch the Yale MOOC on Happiness (thanks to your recommendation) with my wife and we loved it.

      I agree that happiness is sometimes an elusive goal, and reading and watching such videos is helpful.

      I am blessed to have good relationships with my family. I am sorry to hear about your son’s seizures; that sounds quite challenging.

      My wife and I are both fairly happy-go-lucky types, so that makes life much more enjoyable.

      I like that German word!

      I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Not often the sequel outperforms the original, but you have harvested some treasure. Thanks for sharing, perhaps this post will now fill my page of nothing with something. An idea is formulating as I write, thanks to the Master of Blather. Jim, enjoy your weekend; you deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Still cracking up and happy you finally did get a reply. Hey, you got another post out of it, and from what I see, you’re doing just fine. Those new cardigans ought to bump you up to an 8 or 9 on the self confidence scale. LOL 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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