One of my favorite places to chill-out is Barnes and Noble. Sometimes I’ll grab a book, read it for an hour or two, write down what page I stop at and come back in a day or so to read some more.

This past Sunday I didn’t do that but was there looking for a book on Mindfulness. As I was wandering around I notice this book. 

It immediately reminds me of my dude Aaron. He’s a weirdo. The guy loves crime, horror movies, and scary shit. On is way home from work Aaron listens to the Sword and Scale Podcast. He then insists on sharing all the gnarly and gory details with his friends. I hate this. It makes me want to sleep with a nightlight and one eye open.

I take a picture of the book and send a text message to Aaron.

“Hey bud. I’m at Barnes and Noble. This reminded me of you.”

He texts me back and says, “Looks awesome!”

That’s the extent of our conversation. I grab my mindfulness book, head to the cashier, pay and leave.

I get to my car and start to drive to a massage parlor. Not for a happy ending but for a massage. I’m going to treat my self today.

On my drive down I think to myself…

How many times have I been out and see something that reminds me of someone? Then I text them to tell them that I saw something that reminds me of them. And that’s it. I tell them something reminded me of them.

So with Nial Horan’s, “Slow Hands” playing over my speakers. I turn my car around and drive back to Barnes and Noble to buy the book.

Damn you Aaron and your Sword and Scale stories!

I leave the book on Aaron’s bed. The next day he comes home and heads upstairs. Thank god no fucking Sword and Scale stories today. 10 seconds later I here him somewhat running, somewhat walking, lets call it galloping down the stairs.

“J… you bought the book? Thanks so much man. This is awesome!”

Aaron’s face looked like this.

“Yeah. I was thinking, how often am I out and something reminds me of someone. I didn’t want this to me another one of those times. So I said fuck it and bought the dang thing. I’m going to make more of an effort to keep doing this in my life.”

In The Happiness Advantage, Sean Achor challenges readers to do one positive exercise every day for 21 days. Only through behavioral change can information become transformation.

  • Write down three new things you’re grateful for each day
  • Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours
  • Exercise for 10 minutes a day
  • Meditate for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out
  • First thing in the morning write one quick email thanking or praising someone in your social support network (family member, friend, old teacher).

Although I don’t plan on buying a gift for someone for the next 21 days I have set a reminder on my phone that says… “reminded of anyone today ya knucklehead?”

I’m hoping this will act as a reminder to pick up that gift when I’m reminded of someone.


I can’t express how happy it made me to surprise someone like that and see the enjoyment on their face. Giving a gift to someone is far better than receiving one and science backs this up.

In an article over at Psyblog, Jeremy Dean writes that we gain more happiness when we spend money on others rather than ourselves. He goes to say, while this isn’t a mind blowing finding it goes worth saying because it goes against our natural instincts.

“Research suggests that many people think that spending money on themselves will make them happier than spending it on other people (Dunn et al., 2008). But there is evidence from various different studies that, on average, this isn’t true:

  • Participants who were given $5 or $20 to spend on another person were happier than those who spent it on themselves (Dunn et al., 2008).
  • People who spend greater proportions of their income on giving to others or to charity are happier than those who spend it on themselves (Dunn et al., 2008).
  • Canadian and Ugandan students who thought back to times they’d been generous to others were happier than those thinking back to money they’d spent on themselves (Aknin et al., 2010).

And we haven’t even taken into account how happy it makes the recipient.

Giving to others makes us feel better about ourselves. It gets us to think more positively about who we are.

Dr. Dean also writes that “It’s also partly because spending money on others helps cement our social relationships. And people with stronger social ties are generally happier.

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling On Happiness confirms this.

In his book, Gilbert answers the question, “what causes happiness?” He points out that there is a set point for happiness, despite good or bad experiences.

Gilbert says there are three key findings on the science of happiness:

  • we can’t be happy alone
  • we can’t be happy all the time
  • we can be happier than we are currently

I want to dive a little deeper into that, “we can’t be happy alone” one. Regardless of weather you consider yourself introverted or extroverted, humans are social animals. That could mean being social with many people or having a conversation with one other person.

“The biggest predictor of happiness is the extent of our social relationships. A primary reason that our brains have evolved in the manner they have is so we can be social.” – Psycentral


In many studies conducted with identical twins that have been separated at birth, scientists have been able to discover that 50% of our happiness is actually genetically determined. Crazy huh?

What that means is that we actually have a certain level of happiness that we can achieve.

So now you may be wondering where the heck is the other 50%?

It’s said that roughly 10% of our happiness is determined by our circumstances. Those things like money, fame, looking good naked, prestige, the car we drive. You know, those material things. Turns out they don’t have much to do with it.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California and author of The How of Happiness tells us that the remaining 40% is determined by our behavior.

Everyone should be jumping out of their seats right now with enthusiasm.


Because we CONTROL our behavior! What Sonja is telling us is that we are responsible for 40% of our happiness. We get to determine how happy we will be. Genetics and circumstances, may be out of our control. But we can always control our behavior, the way we act, and the way we respond to everything that life throws at us.

So, when was the last time you were out and were reminded of someone? What reminded you of them? Go back there and pick that thing up.

I’m off to San Diego…. I left something there that reminded me of someone.

with gratitude,



Photo – Evan Kirby