Blue Zones of Happiness


Lessons from the World’s Happiest People

The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People by Dan Buettner (for National Geographic) came out earlier this month and after listening to Dan on the Rich Roll Podcast I was inspired to get this book. I highly recommend giving it a look as it shares the secrets from some of the happiest places in the world.

The Book Includes:

  • The Blue Zones Happiness Test
  • Explanations of the “three strands of happiness” (pleasure, purpose, and pride)
  • “Happiness All-Stars” — people from all over the world “who reveal dynamic, practical ways to improve day-to-day living.
  • Strategies and science-based evidence for what works and what doesn’t when trying to design the happiest life possible for you.

National Novel Writing Month is Here

Well, it’s finally upon us. National Novel Writing Month or NaNaWriMo, starts today. The challenge or goal is a 50,000 word manuscript by the end of the month (Nov. 30). That’s approximately 1,700 words per day for thirty days. A tall task to be sure, but I would urge everyone to join in on the fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll write the next great American novel.

I’ve technically already started mine, but I’m still committed to writing the 50,000 words by the end of the month and having a finished manuscript in hand come November 30. Good luck to everyone participating!

Jedidiah Jenkins

By: Thomas Belskie
October 16, 2017

If there’s one person out there right now who inspires me more than anyone else, its Jedidiah Jenkins. He’s inspiring not just as a writer (he’s an incredible writer), but as a person. A few years ago Jedidiah quit his job and decided to ride his bike all the way from Oregon to Patagonia and write a book about it, which is insane. But his reasoning for doing so was anything but insane. Listening to him talk about why he did decide to do it makes all the sense in the world to me. I’ve never heard a more eloquent perspective on living and what it means to be alive:

I want to be aware of every day I’m alive and I want to make it to 85 and be exhausted because I have been alive and awake every, single day. I think that’s the duty of being an adult. When you’re a kid, everything is new, so you don’t have to work for it, you’re just astonished by it. Once you’re an adult, that’s a choice. You choose adventure for your own life. But it’s not about the bike. It’s about getting out of your routine and that could look like anything. And that’s what I’m doing here, that’s why I’m doing this bike trip. Because I don’t want my days to control me. I don’t want my life — the calendar to be my boss. I want to control my days. I want to choose the adventures that I go on and I want to choose a mind and a soul that’s wide awake because, in a sense, it turns your 100 years on this planet into 1000. And so, I mean, that’s why I’m doing this bike trip.”

One of the most insightful things Jedidiah says in the short video about his trip is that, “the routine is the enemy of time. It makes it fly by. When you’re a kid, everything is astonishing. Everything is new, and so your brain is awake and turned on. So every passing second your brain is learning something new, learning how the world works, and so the muscle of your brain is activated. And as you get older and your brain has figured out the patterns of the way the world works, ‘this is how you make money, this is how you graduate school, this is how you get a mortgage, this is how you have kids — I’ve got that on lockdown. I know my car, I know how to go to work every day, I know how to check out,’ all these things. And once your brain establishes a routine, it stops — the alertness goes away — the fascination with the way the world works.”

I feel like I am at about that same point in my life as Jedidiah was when he had that realization. I think that’s why his story resonates so much with me. I’m realizing my 30’s are rapidly approaching and the idea of settling into a routine for the next several decades scares the shit out of me. It scares me enough that I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to take a path that lets me avoid having the coming decades whiz past me only to wake up one day an old man who just never took a shot.

A few months ago I was thinking about going back to school to get an M.B.A. and in a temporary bout of insanity, I even took some classes. Thankfully I snapped out of it.

He wrote a book about the experience and his Instagram bio says “My book comes out 2018” So, I hope that means early 2018. I can’t wait to read it, but in the meantime, I’d urge everyone to check him out on Instagram and read his posts. I don’t think anyone does it better than him.

My Favorite Quotes About Writing – Part 1

By: Thomas Belskie
October 12, 2017

  1. “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
    -Ernest Hemingway
  2. “A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.”
    -Joseph Conrad
  3. “I went for years without finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.”
    -Erica Jung
  4. “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but its the only way you can do anything really good.”
    -William Faulkner
  5. “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have to say something.”
    -F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
    -Maya Angelou
  7. “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
    -Elmore Leonard 
  8. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
    -Anton Chekov
  9. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
    -Stephen King
  10. “There are three rules for writing a novel…unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
    -W. Somerset Maugham

Mike Pence is a Loser

That’s all I really have to say here. I think our VP is a loser. It’s written all over his face so I always assumed it was true, but he just confirmed it for me over the weekend with his childish, ridiculous, and so obviously premeditated PR stunt at the Colts/49ers game on Sunday.

I try not to pay attention to this stuff, but man, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore. I won’t even get into what I think of the president. I’ll save that for another time. But my god, Mike Pence, get a life you loser.

‘Mercy, Will We Overcome This?’

October 3, 2017
By: Thomas Belskie

I keep seeing a lot of reactions to the horrible, horrible mass shooting event that occurred in Las Vegas and I see a lot of prayers going out, a lot of people calling on God or Jesus. They’re nice sentiments, but I think we need to wake up to what’s actually true.

Praying won’t do anything. The world has needed Jesus and/or God for a long time and let me tell you something, they ain’t coming. That much is clear. If they exist at all, they’ve been asleep at the wheel for quite some time. No diety is coming to save us from ourselves. I understand the impulse, but no one is coming to the rescue. It’s just us.

It’s pretty horrific and uncomfortable to confront the fact that life is so mercilessly random. To think that someone has a plan, that someone is in control and that everything happens for a reason provides a refuge from that discomfort. So like I said, I can understand the impulse to tell ourselves stories to make sense of it all. But we need to stop. We need to realize that we’re the only ones who can fix this.

I try to subsist on a low-information diet as much as I can. I bury my head in the sand because if I don’t do that I fear I’ll fall into a deep pit of despair. But eventually, I need to breathe and so I take my head out of the sand. And every time I come up for air, things seem to get worse. I’m a relentlessly positive person, for the most part, I believe in human beings capacity for change and transformation. So I always have hope. But lately, I can’t seem to escape this sinking feeling that eventually, human intelligence will indeed prove to be a “deadly mutation.”

For a few seconds just contemplate the fact that we have a very large amount of people in this country who passionately and with great enthusiasm, lobby for the right to produce and carry weapons that were designed for war, or put another way, weapons that were designed for the explicit purpose of killing humans. In fact, in their fantasy we would have more guns on the streets, more individuals armed and carrying concealed weapons. I don’t want to mince words, you’d have to be mentally deranged and/or totally f***ing stupid to think that scenario makes us safer.

Also, contemplate that we know climate change is happening. We know it’s not good. But here, in this country, we celebrate and promote ignorance and a disdain for intellect along with a brazen disrespect for science. We’re not going to do anything about it, and we’re going to break our arms as we pat ourselves on the back celebrating American exceptionalism.

Lastly, contemplate the thousands of nuclear weapons spread out across the globe. Yes, thousands. A handful would surely bring the planet to its knees and yet we have nearly fifteen thousand throughout the world. When I look at all this along with the sharp divide, not just at home, but all over the planet, when I see the roots of discontent taking such a strong hold everywhere and I think about these things rising to a fever pitch…it’s hard to believe in any god.

This is on us. We’re the only ones who can provide the solutions we so desperately need.