Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Happiness is ...

For the past well I don’t know how long there have been a couple of different lines of thought floating around in my head. I’m beginning to think they are all related so I’m going to ramble in a blog post in an attempt to connect them. Feel free to drop a comment if you can think of a point I’m not making or an aspect I’m not considering.

There a saying that I have heard at work relating to engineers and the work they do. "The perfect is the enemy of the good enough." Engineers tend to work very hard to find the perfect solution, when a far easier, though not perfect solution would have been just fine. I’ve seen this in practice and have fallen into the trap a few times myself. Lately I think we have swung the pendulum a little past good enough toward not so good, but that’s a different topic. The trick it seems is knowing what good enough really is and keeping the end result, in this case a product someone will buy and use, in mind.

I wondered how this might apply to my life outside of work. I’m the kind of guy who likes to research something before I buy it. For instance, before my recent computer parts purchase, I scoured Tom’s Hardware to get an idea of what to buy, and read over a whole lotta comments on newegg before purchasing my stuff. I read Consumer Reports all the time and hardly buy anything without doing a little research first. Is this putting too much effort into things? I don’t think so. If I spent a year trying to figure out what computer to buy then I could see that being too much. But what about other decisions, big life-altering decisions? What career do I want? Where should I live? With such important decisions such as those it would seem the more time spend figuring it out the better, but does all of this make us happier? Is the correct decision required to be happy?

Then I hear about this book called the Paradox of Choice. I might have been a piece on NPR or maybe the Daily Show but I do know it just got talked about on Spending Wisely. Anyway, the basic idea is there are two types of people, the maximizers, those who research everything in search of the best choice, and the satisficers, those who settle for the first choice that meets a certain guideline. You might think that those who makes those best choices would be happier than those who settle. It turns out not to be the case. The problem with maximizers is they always worry if something better is going to come along and worry if they really did make the best choice. The satisficers are happy with their guidelines and then are happy with their choices. And here’s the kicker, this isn’t just true for the what kind of toilet paper kind of decisions. It’s also true for the big what career path to choose, what college to go to, who to marry kind of decisions.

For the smaller decisions I think I am ok. I don’t want to get screwed and I want a good deal, but I am not on a quest to find the perfect motherboard or the best toiler paper. I do a little research and find guides I trust and use that to set my guidelines. And I think that has worked well happiness wise. The big decisions I still struggle with. I think I am trying to find the perfect job or the perfect place to live or the perfect way to raise a family. If my end result is to be happy, which it is, all this may be counter-productive.

That’s enough for now.

"It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got." – Sheryl Crow

"Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so." – John Stuart Mill

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow

Weekend before last
In what has now become an annual tradition, a bunch of us went to Sambet’s for some crawfish. While there was live music again this year, sadly there was no cheese cake on a stick. To make up for this we went to Dairy Queen. Yum. The final event of the evening was Babe. I never knew a G movie could be so good. Saturday evening the same six of us headed up to Round Rock for my very first Express baseball game. They were playing the Zephrys so we figured it was a good time to go. The game was good but the real entertainment was the food. I had an extra long hot dog, a sausage wrap, a corn dog, a beer, and a funnel cake. Oh yeah. And then we went to Round Rock donuts where I had a donut and coffee. Melissa banned me from pork products for a least one day. Weird thing was I wanted a hot dog for lunch on Sunday. Sunday night Melissa and I went over to the Bircher’s for a nice quiet dinner just the four of us. The food was exquisite, the company was excellent, and I look forward to more in the future.

Last weekend
With Melissa and Andy officially leaving Austin this week, Friday night was a night for them. We started off at Trudy’s by campus, with Mexican Martinis of course, and then had coffee and dessert at Quack’s. It was the perfect soon-to-be-Stallings evening and I’m glad they invited all of us along to be a part of it. Saturday Taylor, Andy, and I played a full 18 holes of golf out by the airport. The weather started cold, turned into rainy, and finished off with cloudless sky sunny. I played decently shooting a 107 and may I just say Andy did incredibly well for his first full round of golf. The downside of the freakish weather is that we all wound up sunburnt. After golf we met up with the ladies and worked on wedding programs for the remainder of the day, stopping only long enough to eat at Mangia. On Sunday the Melissa Dickeys hosted a baby shower for the Bircher’s at the house. It was a group of people that really had never hung out before but everyone seemed to have a great time. Major props to the Melissas for pulling it together so quickly.

Ever notice how most of my weekend recaps revolve around food? I blame Taylor.

TV Update: Joan of Arcadia, Joey, Desperate Housewives, Joan of Arcadia, Joan of Arcadia, Gilmore Girls, Scrubs, Lost, Alias, Desperate Housewives, Everybody Loves Raymond