Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Care and Cleaning of Laughter

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Some things in life we oughtn’t leave to chance. Laughter is one of them. You might think that laughter is easy. All you do is laugh. But you’d be wrong. That’s like thinking you don’t need to clean the sink because it already gets soap and water, so where’s the need? Laughter requires care and cultivation, which is why we here at Indigo Lantern have developed the Definitive Guide to Laughter Maintenance.

Here it is, folks, a step-by-step guide to taking care of your laughter.

1. Laughter is contagious, so hang out with laughing people.

2. Laughter cross-training opportunities include laughter yoga and laughter exercises.

3. Finally, laugh often as laughter improves with frequent use.

That’s it. Laugh at least once per day. Laugh with other people. If you’re out of practice, do laughing exercises. And remember, take care of your laughter: it’s serious business.

How to Decide Between Two Job Offers

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

A friend of mine recently needed to choose between two job offers. This is always a good place to be, especially in light of the current economic conditions. The problem, though, is how to choose between the two job offers. She asked me, and others, for our thoughts. I’ll elaborate here my own thought process regarding her decision.

Job A and Job B

Both Job A and Job B include an immediate promotion to the position she wants. Both jobs would require relocating, which she is fine with, although she prefers Job A’s city to Job B’s city. They pay the same salary. However, Job A is in a more expensive city, so her lifestyle would be somewhat reduced.

Here are the differences. Job B is in a field that is steadier and less susceptible to changes in the economy. It’s more of a “sure thing” for the long term. Partly because of this, Job B offers greater opportunity in terms of career advancement. Because the field is a sure thing, the road to promotion is more assured as well. Finally, Job B offers slightly greater managerial responsibility.

Job A, on the other hand, is more susceptible to the economy. However, it is in a field that is of interest to my friend, and one in which she would have the opportunity not only to build on her current knowledge, but also to grow and learn even more. Additionally, my friend has many friends in Job A’s city (as well as it being one of the most interesting cities in the United States).

How to decide?

My friend was stymied, because while Job B makes more sense from a practical point of view (more responsibility, quicker road to promotion, better standard of living), she is really drawn to Job A (more interesting work, better city, and more interesting lifestyle because of her friends). When she did a Ben Franklin evaluation (the decision-making process made famous by Ben Franklin of listing the pro’s and con’s of each choice in two columns, then comparing the two), the result was pretty much even. She wasn’t sure which to go with, Job A or Job B.

For me, the choice is clear. As I listened to my friend speak, I noticed that whenever I heard her talk about Job A, her voice was excited and full of energy. When she spoke about Job B, it was less so. If Job B hadn’t seemed to make better sense from a career standpoint, I don’t think she would have hesitated for a second. But because it seems to make more sense in terms of developing her career, I think she feels as if she ought to choose Job B and that it would be less responsible to choose Job A.

As I said, for me, the choice is clear. She should choose Job A. For two reasons.

On the one hand, it is much easier to get up in the morning and go to work when you are interested in the work, you have a great social life because you are in a terrific city with friends, and you are enjoying yourself in general. This is a very compelling argument to choose Job A.

Additionally, the argument that favors Job B is a false argument. I will agree that, all things being equal, Job B seems to be a better choice in terms of career advancement, but the two jobs are similar enough that Job B nudges out Job A only by a nose. This would be significant only if the path to career advancement and career happiness were very clearly marked. It’s not. That’s why my friend is facing a choice, because she doesn’t know what the consequences of her choice will mean for her career. If she knew the consequences, there would be no difficulty at all, so long as she knew her own values and priorities in life. She would simply choose the path that helped her reach the fulfillment of her personal and professional goals.

The limits of logic and practicality

However, in real life, there is no sure thing. The two jobs are too similar to say that one is obviously a better choice than the other. It could be that professionally, both jobs are equivalent and will lead her to the same place of success in ten years. Or it could be that the company will go bankrupt in five years and she would have just as much preparation from each job to launch the next stage of her career. It could be that the interest she has in Job A will fan the flames of her career, and she’ll rise in the company even faster than she thought possible. It could be that the steadiness of Job B is indeed the better choice because it will lay the groundwork for taking on greater and greater responsibility and moving up in the company hierarchy in the way she expects. It could be any number of things. The point is, no one knows.

Which brings us to the question, once logic and practicality have done their job in eliminating the bad ideas and qualifying the good ideas, where do you go from there? Again, if there is only one good choice at the end, then logic and practicality have done their job. End of story. But, if there is more than one good choice, and you’ve exhausted the effect of logic and practicality, how do you choose?

Going with the heart

In my opinion, in this situation there is only one way to choose: with the heart. Where your interest lies, where you smile spontaneously, and where the spark flies, this is where you should go. If we ignore the whisper of creativity (which comes to us through yearnings of the heart and soul, much like my friend’s interest in the intellectual challenge of Job A as well as the companionship of her friends in Job A’s city), then we are left with nothing but logic and practicality. We are left without love, without music, without art, without flower gardens, without friendship, without altruism, without much of what makes life interesting, fun, and fulfilling. It may seem over the top to link my friend’s choice between Job A and Job B to the difference between the creative life and one that is parched, but the richness of our lives is determined by our choices. Choosing the way of the heart, when all else is equal, can make the difference between our happiness (and the happiness of others) and our regrets.

I don’t know what my friend will choose. She is an extremely capable person, so whatever she chooses, I know she will do well. What I do hope for her is that the exercise of choosing between these two jobs has been useful to her as a way to get to know herself better. At the end of the day, the self-knowledge she gains from contemplating and making her decision will be one of the greatest benefits she will receive from making her choice.