Surviving and Thriving and Happiness

Some habits are better to pick back up by easing into them instead of diving back in (realize I haven't kept a regular cadence of writings and thoughts here lately). Below is a quick roundup of what's been on my bookshelf. 

1) Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur by Brad Feld
Alright, so I wouldn't say I'm an entrepreneur. Or that I'm dating an entrepreneur. But I started reading Brad Feld's Surviving and Thriving, just one of his books in a larger series on the start-up lifestyle (see Startup Revolution), and I'm incredibly drawn to the topics and arguments him and his wife Amy Batchelor make. They both run their own organizations and run tight schedules. But the essence of the book is finding a work/life balance, and as part of that balance (or really, integral to that balance) is finding a way to continue developing the relationships we have outside of our computer work screens. You don't need to be running your own start-up and dating a likewise entrepreneur to want any of those in your life, so I found the book to be adaptable and enlightening. The examples they give in the book are specific to spousal relationships, but a lot of the tips could be taken to other relationships/friendships. 

A couple of highlights from the book I enjoyed (I'm about halfway through): 

Never Schedule High Priorities Activities or Deadlines on Fridays: Doing so will likely create a scenario that drifts into Friday night, Saturday, and then Sunday. Always be realistic about the ebb and flow of the work cycle.

Have a Life Dinner Once a Month:
 Make a reservation right now at one of your favorite restaurants. Go out--just the two of you. Buy your significant other a gift. Turn off your cell phones and hand them to the other person. Spend a long slow dinner enjoying each other's company.

Four Minutes in the Morning: 
One simple thing that we do that connects and grounds us each morning when we are physically in the same place is to spend four minutes together, making eye contact, and chatting casually about what the day's schedule is and when we might see each other again.

If you want more, I'd suggest his blog as well as his thoughtful reflection on resetting priorities. 

2) Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill by Mathieu Ricard
I've been on a bit of a meditation kick for the better half of a quarter of a year (and before that had done a great job at failing at regular meditation). Without going any deeper into that point of conversation than needed, and instead focusing on Mathieu Ricard's book, I've recently come to believe there is merit to developing an ability to define what derives happiness and how to work towards that. 

Even more interesting is Ricard's explicit calling of "happiness" as a skill. As a recent new grad I would say that what I've learned in the past year could easily be divided into items that fit a "hard resume" and a "soft resume". Slot Ricard's concepts and thoughts on mindfulness and meditation under the soft resume. These are skills I find to be incredibly useful in my day-to-day at work (and would imagine them to be useful just about in any job) but might look a little bit awkward under the conventional "Skills and Interests" section of a traditional job resume. 

What worked for me was Ricard's ability to comunicate these concepts from a Western perspective (he grew up in France and prior to moving to Nepal to practice Buddhism full time he was on a promising career track in cellular genetics. The book blends in fascinating psychological studies alongside the traditional wise sayings and practices of true Buddhism. 

Next Up: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn