Happy Days

Oh my god. I just wrote the longest post ever, explaining the differences between a desk-top publisher and a graphic designer, going into the details or crowd sourcing and spec work, and the I realized that non one who reads this probably has the slightest interest in my ramblings. Lucky for you, you're not in my presence, so I can hit the delete button and save you from listening to me prattle on, unlike everyone else in my life. Ha! I can't promise I won't ramble, but trust me, I was getting into ethics and theory of design, and I've saved you from all of that!

Design Thinkers is the name of the conference that I was away at last week, and I am just such a happy camper. If you want insight on what Design Thinkers is, or who organized it (the  RGD), just click on the links and you can find more info. Summary - it's a design conference where we get to listen to awesome keynote speakers, and attend seminars of our choosing which center around various aspects of design and types of jobs.

Stefan Sagmeister is a very talented designer, living in New York City. He is super into type, he is super, super brilliant, and he was a keynote speaker at Design Thinkers.

I honestly thought he'd be an arrogant man. Cocky at the least. The man has so much talent in his pinky finger, and in this industry of egos, it seemed impossible that he could be anything but egomaniacal.

But he wasn't.

Maybe he's an excellent actor, I don't know, but he was so endearing and amazing, and this man inspired me so much, and on a life level, not just a design level. So I thought I'd bring his story to you!

A few years ago, Stefan found himself depressed. He thought about his life, and thought about how, although he was not athletic at all, he had once spent a year training himself to be an athlete, and ran the NYC marathon. If it was possible to train his body, he thought, what if he tried to train his mind? Could he, in a year, train his mind to be happy? And thus began his experiment, which he is making into a film.

He shared a story from when he was in his early twenties. He was on the subway, and he noticed a strikingly beautiful woman, who was about 85 years old. He couldn't believe how beautiful she was, and he thought he should tell her. As he was trying to get up the courage to share this with her, she got off the subway. Stefan panicked, and hopped off, too. He called her, and told her how absolutely lovely she looked, and it made her very happy. Stefan decided that, from that day on, he would tell people the nice things he thought, in order to bring others happiness.

But he didn't, because that never happens, right?

So, part of what Stefan set out to do in his year-long happy experiment, was to tell people around him that he cares about them, and how wonderful they are, because he felt that this would make others happy, and in turn, make himself happy, too.

This struck a cord with me, big time! Do we do this enough?

TheGuy and I often play a game where I tell him something about himself, and he tells me something about me. A few weeks ago, I told him how he is the most generous person I've ever met (he would actually give you the last cent in his pocket, and the shirt off his back, and would be planning ways to get you more stuff, because that's just how he rolls). He told me that I am the most loving person, in the sense that I tell people, sincerely, how much I care about them, and how wonderful they are, as people.

I thought about that, and it's totally true. If I'm really into someone, I can't help but tell them how great they are. I fall in love with people all the time! And you know how people are sometimes just so amazingly great about something? I have to tell them! And when people are thoughtful!? I have to tell them (If they're way better looking than me, though, I probably won't tell them, because girls are weird like that)!

A big theme in Stefan's talk was to put aside self-consciousness in order to achieve happiness. Imagine walking down the street and seeing someone with a cup of coffee. It might make you think "oh! I want coffee", but instead of asking the person where they got theirs, you'll wander aimlessly to try to find a shop.

We should stop doing that.

It is so much  more endearing to share yourself with people. In the past, I've learned that talking about my biggest insecurities usually result in a resounding chorus of "ME TOO!" So, what are we so afraid of? Everyone else judging us? Because when I'm standing at a party NOT talking to that super pretty girl, THAT'S when I'm being judged. As a snob? As an insecure person? Either way, only total ding dongs'll kick you when you're down.

So now, I'm going to try to put that aside. What's the point of being self-conscious all the time? I mean, there's a difference between being humble and from having obstacles that exist solely due to insecurity or self-consiousness (like the coffee analogy). I know I'm a good person, and that's the best I can be. You're a good person, too, or you wouldn't be so kind as to read my ramblings. We need to stop questioning ourselves all the time, and start questioning how to train ourselves to be happy.

Thanks Stefan Sagmeister. You rocked my socks off.

Stefan Sagmeister is in the process of creating a film of his experiment, called The Happy Film. It's currently on  kickstarter, and though it's been funded, it'd be a great project to contribute to. I bet it'll make you feel more happy!

What little random things make you happy?

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