The Bobby Rock Newsletter #67 (7-16-22) - The Science of Happiness
The Bobby Rock Newsletter #67 (7-16-22) - The Science of Happiness
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Hey Gang -
I am still out here in the trenches of America's highways and byways this week with Lita Ford and the gang, having a blast and playing some cool shows. Earlier this week, we traversed by plane and van through Tennesee, Virginia, Kentucky, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Wisconsin... in one single travel day. This morning, we woke up to a 4:15 AM lobby call in Sacramento, and somehow wound up 70 miles southeast of the Fargo airport, getting ready to play a festival here in North Dakota tomorrow. It just doesn't stop... and for this, I am grateful!
Let's jump right into this week's offerings:
In This Issue:
- Is Happiness Really a Science? Sure, but we don't have to treat it as such. Try these 12 approaches to it instead...
- What happens when you meditate every single day for two years straight? Good things!
- Another Year Around the Sun: A quick birthday reflection
The Science of Happiness:
Twelve Steps Toward Bliss
As much as I love most anything that propagates self-improvement, I must admit that my sphincter clenches just a bit when a book or course promotes the notion of "getting the life you want." Of course, I get what they mean: they are usually addressing the infamous gap that exists between where you are currently operating, and where, in your infinite potentiality, you could be operating in that more self-actualized version of you. Cool.
However, I’m a big believer in the beauty of the NOW… of where you are in this moment; alive, mental faculties firing, air entering and exiting your lungs, with an awareness of the wonder and perfection all around… even with those aspects that seem undesirable. Why? Because it is precisely those undesirable aspects that present to us that gap, and offer that proverbial “call to adventure” to get off our asses and engage a bit of discomfort, as we soar vertically into the great unknown and get a little closer to the best version of ourselves. With over-emphasis on the “life you want” (future), we can miss out on everything extraordinary about the “life that is” (present).
All that said, I wanted to share a quick tidbit from a pretty cool book I’ve recently revisited called The How of Happiness. I dig it because it’s rooted in real science: in tangible, actionable directives, as opposed to some of the mushy, theoretical shit that doesn’t always survive beyond the sugar rush of the more compelling future that supposedly beckons.
Author Sonja Lyubomirsky is a research psychologist and University of California professor of psychology who has studied the “science” of happiness extensively. There is a lot of valuable wisdom in her book, The How of Happiness, but I thought you might dig her twelve key “strategies” for obtaining happiness. They might not all resonate, but perhaps the list can serve as somewhat of a checklist for you as far as what you currently might be getting right, or maybe need to try a bit more of, or maybe get back to practicing, etc.
Her suggestions are in black, my comments are in red. Scope ‘em:
1. Expressing Gratitude - This is my #1 daily practice… hard to be unhappy when you count those blessings every day.
2. Cultivating Optimism - It’s much more practical and constructive than cultivating pessimism!
3. Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison - To not give a fuck what anyone else thinks is one of life’s great lessons (or gifts) as far as I’m concerned.
4. Practicing Acts of Kindness - This is key… to our fellow humans, for sure, but especially toward all animals, insects, and other “little buddies” who come our way. It’s an evolved, joyful, and compassionate way to live, in my experience.
5. Nurturing Social Relationships - What would we do without great friends to connect with? Excellent “soul medicine," for sure.
6. Developing Strategies for Coping - This is a long-term thing to master, but very helpful in navigating life’s inevitable tragedies and set-backs. They will happen… it’s what we signed up for.
7. Learning to Forgive - Like Mark Twain said, "Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Not easy to do sometimes, but we do it both for those who we choose to forgive, but also for our own liberation, personal growth, and peace of mind.
8. Increasing Flow Experiences - A flow experience happens in any activity where we lose track of time. It is highly advisable to both discover what that is for you, and also to do it regularly!
9. Savoring Life’s Joys - This is about savoring our favorite things… and as one example, about sitting down to enjoy that meal, instead of standing at the counter and mindlessly shoveling the food down our throat. Savor!
10. Committing to Your Goals - It’s always a good idea to give structure and planning to those things that are most important in your life.
11 Practicing Religion and Spirituality - We all have our own idea about what this might look like, but there is often no greater perspective on things than the existential one...
12. Taking Care of Your Body: Meditation + Physical Activity + Acting Like a Happy Person - I always say, “There’s nothing more important than your health.” And here, there is a lot of joy in experiencing great health and having the physical energy to optimize all of those activities that make you happy.
Check out the book for plenty more practical goodness and, of course, some interesting "science" behind the state of happiness.
Two-Year Meditation Streak
Celebrated two years of consecutive daily meditation this week. As many of you may know, I’ve had a practice for many years and I’ve been using this Calm app for the past few, which is cool because it keeps track of the days and times. Certainly, not every “medi” is a transcendent experience... but neither is every workout or practice session. But I do believe there is something about just showing up every day that's much better than NOT showing up every day. I find that structure in a meditation practice can be just as beneficial as structure in any other endeavor, like practicing, running, hitting the weights, or writing.
And, just like anything else we practice, we’re gonna see improvements. To that end, I’ve always thought of meditation like weightlifting for your brain. Little by little, you strengthen your mind and are able to bring a lot more intentionality into your life, as far as: controlling what kinds of thoughts and inner dialogues you let linger in your mind and which ones you gently escort the hell out, how quickly you tend to react to “unfavorable” happenings, and how effectively you can mitigate the inner-chatter, especially when it’s time to concentrate—like during a medi session. I find all of these skills to be quite useful!
I’ve also noticed this past year that when I defer any big responses or decisions to post-meditation time vs. the sooner-rather-than-later knee-jerk approach, I’m always happy I did. Typically, I find that whenever we react and/or make decisions when we’re either stressed, angry, or worried, we tend to default to the ol’ fight-or-flight "lizard brain" part of our consciousness and… let’s just say… that’s not exactly the locale where our most mindful and constructive thinking takes place.
For the full report, check out my article, “This Is Your Brain On Meditation” at www.bobbyrock.com:
PS. The total number of sessions and “mindful minutes” in the graphic above have been compiled over the last few years that I’ve been using the app, and not just in the past two years of this streak!
Another Trip Around the Sun: A Birthday Reflection
Once again, a heartfelt thanks to all of you who reached out via social, text, email, or voice mail for the b-day wishes on Wednesday. This year’s birthday was a show day, which is always a bonus. And my Lita Ford road family surprised me with a vegan cake (and party favors) after soundcheck (as the frosting remnants drip all over my pants!).
I was gonna try and write a little something reflective… something about how the last year of a life decade—19, 29, 39, 49, and now 59—is always more “traumatic” to me than the big first year of the next decade of life (20, 30, 40, 50, etc). But as I sat down to figure out why, it turns out I have no justifiable reason for this, beyond whatever sociological implications we may have inadvertently applied to each new decade. Truth is, my lifestyle has changed very little—in fact, not really at all—since my twenties. Sure, life has deepened and diversified, there’s no question. But again, physically speaking, I don’t feel much different now than I did in my 20’s (besides having to reach for my reading glasses a bit more often and having to pay closer attention to training recovery times (which I guess is to be expected after so many years of missing out on valuable sleep as I thrash my body on the stage, at the gym, and in the streets).
Any show day is a good day…
especially when it’s a birthday!
(Rock Fest: 7-13-22)
But still… the mind has expanded. The hard-earned knowledge, wisdom, or whatever you want to call it, is the real payoff of the "later years,” although I literally have myself convinced that I’m only just a few years past the halfway mark (barring any unforeseen accident—106 is the aspiration). And to simply not give a fuck about what others think—priceless! For real, my mind is strong and, more so than the old days, that’s as important to me as a healthy, athletic body.
I feel good, friends, and I hope you all do, as well. If not, my wish is that we can all find priority with those healthier decisions in all things food, exercise, rest, and mental well-being, as we hit those later years and our bodies are no longer as forgiving as they once were!
And for our younger readers... I’ve found great value in getting ahead of the curve with this shit in my early-20s. We can really thrive large through the years when we take care of ourselves early on and establish those good lifelong habits. That's infinitely easier than having to create new habits after practicing bad ones for so long! Just my take...
Thanks again, everybody. Connect next week!
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