Classes of Happiness: Positive Psychology at Harvard, and the Science of Well-Being at Yale

I am currently learning these two classes about Happiness, Well-being, and positiveness.  It certainly benefited me a lot, and all are free.

  • The first one is Positive Psychology, taught by Tal Ben-Shahar at Harvard university, which enters the history books as the most popular course in the history of Harvard University.

    The whole class (with Chinese closed caption) is available at Youtube Playlist: [Open Courses at Harvard] Positive Psychology

  • The second one is the Science of Well-Being of Yale university. The purpose of the course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy but also to put those strategies into practice. I am learning it through Coursera “the science of well-being

A small donation

When I was driving home waiting at an intersection, I saw an old lady (apparently not in good condition) holding a sign saying she has some disease. Apparently she was looking for some donation. It was really cold outside. I wasn’t able to give money to her since she was beyond the reach.

When I was home I decided to run back to the intersection and give the money to her. I don’t know why but I just had that urge. Its just its so cold outside and people barely noticed her. I hope she can at least have a dinner.

Since I am starting the 100wishes project. Why don’t I just start with myself: I wish everyone have a safe place to stay and have enough food.

Connection between Stress and Cardiovascular Disease.

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of disability (Stats: accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States).

A recent study published in THE LANCET shows a connection between stress and cardiovascular disease.

“Our results provide a unique insight into how stress may lead to cardiovascular disease. This raises the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological wellbeing,” said lead author Dr Ahmed Tawakol, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, USA. “Eventually, chronic stress could be treated as an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is routinely screened for and effectively managed like other major cardiovascular disease risk factors.” Reference

Protect our heart by doing those small things:

  1. Pause, unwind, and relax;
  2. Excise regularly;
  3. Omega 3 is good for heart. Sources include salmon, walnuts, almond, chia, flaxseed, avocado;
  4. Reduce sugar intake.

Good and Bad Carbs

Carbs are essential and controversial. However, there are some commonly agreed guidelines -choose “whole” instead of “Refined”. Below are some example sources.

healthy carbs: barley, squash, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potato, broccoli, blue berry, spinach

refined carbs: sugar-sweetened beverage, fruit juice, pastries, white bread, white pasta, white rice.

If you consume a lot refined carbs, reducing them gradually might be an easy life change event.

Healthy carbs


refined carbs

Getting up early

I tried several times to make get-up-early a habit, but failed each time.  I did succeed from time to time, but could not make it consistent. I really want to be an early riser, and now officially make it a challenge. If I can rise between 6:30am-7:30am 30 days in a row, I consider it a success. This certainly is not easy. The first thing to do is to find the motivation.

What is my reason to jump out of bed in the cold morning? Things that immediately came up to my mind include believing in myself, more time for exercise, getting abs, no guilty feeling of wasting time, no headache, more energy, more time spent with positive people, the quiet neighborhood, the bird chirping, the beautiful sunrise, and the entrepreneurial spirit.

I will come back to this post and strikethrough each day if i succeed. Anyone is doing it together with me? Shoot me an email or leave a comment!

 2/12    2/13     2/14   2/15    2/16

2/17   2/18    2/19    2/20    2/21   2/22   2/23

2/24   2/25   2/26   2/27    2/28   3/1      3/2

3/3      3/4     3/5

Breaking the comfort zone

Stepping outside of our comfort zone is inevitably an uncomfortable experience, but it can yield a lot more growth. I used to be afraid of public speaking, but I joined a toastmaster to face my fear, and I can see the improvement every week. Now it’s even much easier I talk to a total stranger. Whenever we see the result, it serves as a positive feedback that will encourage us to try harder.

I totally agree that “outside of the comfort zone is where the magic happens”. Now i am challenging myself at a daily basis.

Finished my first full marathon!

When I saw the sun finally came out i was so excited (it has been raining for many days in my area), and decided to go for a marathon run. It’s kinda dangerous since I did’t have much training after the half marathon run 2 months ago.

When I arrived at the trail, it started raining. I hesitated if i should just go home since it was raining even harder. But when i saw some hardcore runners passing by and not giving a shit about the rain, i made a determination that i will be one of them and finish today’s run no matter what.

In the first half, it was ok and i was pretty fast. But in the second half my feet hurt a lot. I had to stop to do some stretching for every mile. Energy and endurance-wise i was totally fine, and didn’t even feel tired; but feet and legs hurt too much. In the last several miles, it was almost as slow as walking.

The number is pretty bad (about 5 hours if excluding the time used to hide from rain), but i do consider it a big success since i never imaged i can do this!

What is more important than a healthy body?

A healthy mind I guess.

Mindset is discovered by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. At the heart of a “growth mindset” is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Below is the comparison.

mindset type

The diet from a neurogenesis point of view

In the book The Neurogenesis Diet and Lifestyle: Upgrade Your Brain, Upgrade Your Life, Dr. Brant Cortright presented great findings to boost our brain health at any age.  He suggested the following general principles of diet for neurohealth:

  • Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits;
  • High quality fats: grass-fed meat, flaxseed, pasture-raised chicken, avocados, extra virgin coconut/olive oil, nuts and seeds, high quality fish, etc.
  • Cook at low temperature. Don’t eat burnt or charred meat.
  • Lower sugar and carbohydrates intake. Good carbohydrates comes with lots of fiber: summer squash, berries, kale, carrots, etc.

5-minute chia seed drink

Three reasons to make chia drinks yourself.

  • Chia seed, which is loaded with antioxidants and fiber, is naturally low-calorie. It helps to reduce weight, and has many health benefits.
  • Chia seed is low price (organic chia seed is around $4 lbs at whole food).  Compare to the price of those single serve bottles!
  • The jelly-like texture is unique. Adjust the taste with your choice of fruit.


  • Mix up 3 teaspoons of chia seed and a cup of warm water.
  • Get 1/4 lemon and squeeze the juice in to add a taste.

Finished half mathoron

I finished 13 miles in 1 hour 56 mins, which is not too bad for the first-time try. I actually didn’t find it too difficult (thanks to the training of spin class) except that during the workout my thighs sore. I wasn’t at the best physical condition (worked out too much this week), and I expect to do even better next time.

Another thing i achieved today is that I got the “best table topic” award in the toastmaster meeting. This is not imaginable since I thought table topic is the most difficult task, and i simply can’t do it. It comes easily today :). I can, and I believe you can too!

Happy thanksgiving all!


A list of challenges I believe I can do

It’s year end again. I am here listing 8 challenges to be achieved by end of 2016. I will check them off one by one if ever :).

  • Take two cold showers in the middle of winter. This is not extremely difficult since it is California!
  • Run a half marathon (On the day of writing I ran 10 miles). Done on Nov 23, 2016
  • 25 pullups in a row (On the day of writing I can do 12-15 in a row)
  • Reach out and make 2 new friends.
  • Initiate and have a meaningful and coherent conversation with a stranger.
  • Get up at 6:45am 5 days a week.
  • A 48-hour hackathon.

Today I ran 10 miles and had to take uber to get back home since it was raining. The uber driver was a very friendly and interesting lady. We had a great conversation about nutrition, fitness and president election :).  She said she really wanted to run but the gym membership is costly. I recommend some gym with reasonable price to her. Hopefully she will check it out and get started!