Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happiness: Media

I have quite a few productivity blogs in my blogroll, and I also have a few that are mostly devoted to happiness, the major one being The Happiness Project. I've been doing a lot of work in that realm lately, i.e., happiness, visualization, that kind of thing. It's been on my mind a lot. This morning when I was catching up on my blog reading, I made some notes about the things that I've been doing lately that help keep my spirits up.

Audible.com

I don't watch or listen to the news, especially local news. My days are tremendously improved now that I listen to audio books on my commute rather than listening to the radio. I've noticed that when I'm between books--when I've finished one and don't have another on deck, or if I have a bad CD, so can't listen, I start out my day in a bad mood. This is HUGE for me. It may sound silly, but I think if you figure out something like that, you go with it.

I get audio books on CD from the library, and I put myself on waiting lists for the ones I want. But sometimes I can't find anything I want, and none of my requested ones are available. I can't make myself buy audio books on CD from the bookstore, they're WAY too expensive. So I sprung for a one audio book a month subscription to audible.com. It costs $15, which is much less than audio books cost in the stores, and considerably less than the regular price for a downloadable audio book.

I still agonize over the choice of what to spend my credit on, and sometimes, if I've had good luck at the library, a few credits will build up. I try not to use them for books that I know I can get at the library, if I just have patience, but sometimes I'll use one for a book that I just don't want to wait for.

I used to burn the audio books onto CD, but my laptop doesn't do a very good job on audio CDs lately, for some reason, so last weekend I bought an iTrip. It's a gadget that allows me to listen to audio from my iPhone through the car's speakers. Sometimes it's a little difficult to find a good frequency ("What's the frequency, Kenneth?"), but overall I'm very happy with it. It was a little bit of an outlay in the beginning, but I'll save money by not burning CDs.

I'm currently working my way through Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I started on 7, I think, and I'm listening to 15 right now (Finger Lickin' Fifteen). I have Plum Spooky to listen to next. I haven't decided if I'm going to go back and listen to the earlier ones, since they have a different narrator, one that I don't like as well. Maybe I'll take a break and listen to the Twilight books, then come back to the Plums.

Netflix

I used to have a Netflix account, and I loved it, but I started feeling like it was an indulgence that I couldn't justify, so I cancelled it. I don't watch much television, and I don't really watch many movies, but I love them. When I have an evening with no commitments, and Bob is out of town, I'll often go to Blockbuster and browse through the new release movies, and rent a couple. But then what sometimes happens is that I'll get home, get involved in something else, and end up not watching them. Then I have major guilt for not watching them, and feel pressured, and watch under deadline (the due date/time), which is horrible, since watching a movie is supposed to be a treat, and relaxing.

But I still love movies. I usually buy the ones I want (if I can find them on sale), but sometimes I'd like to see something that I'm not sure I actually want to own. So I recently re-enrolled in Netflix. The plan I got is about $15 a month for unlimited movies, with two out at a time. And I just discovered that they have certain movies that you can watch on your computer immediately. I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. last night and watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua and I'll Be There, two movies that were on my queue. This is included in my subscription, and it was wonderful! All I had to do was look at the list of available movies (in my Netflix queue, they're marked "Play") and choose one, and after a brief browser plug-in download, it started playing.

Tonight the plan is to watch Saving Grace, one of my favorite British comedies.

Books

I love books. I love to buy books. I love to browse in bookstores. I love Amazon.com, GoodReads, Library Thing, etc. I hate to pay full price for books, though, so if I'm going to buy a book, I try to use a coupon or Amazom credit. For some reason, even though I'm enrolled in their frequent reader program, Borders has stopped sending me coupons. I've written to them several times, and they say everything is set up correctly, but I just don't get them. So I looked around, and found DealsPlus. You can sign up for the coupons you're interested in, and get a daily email with available ones. They're posted by regular people (i.e., not by the stores), so they don't always work, but I do at least feel like I've made an effort to save some money by using a coupon if there's a book I can't get at the library, or don't want to wait for.

Also, I do like to support authors and bookstores, and don't allow myself to feel guilty about buying books. There have to be some limits!

Ebooks

With eReader for iPhone, Fictionwise, and the Kindle for iPhone app, I can have an entire library with me all the time. Right now I'm reading Good Ghouls Do, by Julie Kenner, on my iPhone. I read the first book in this series, The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even, on it, too, and was able to get the second book immediately.

While I'm all about instant gratification, I don't buy ebooks books on impulse. If I'm interested in a book, I usually get a free sample from Amazon first, and only rarely buy full price books. If I'm going to buy something full price, I try to hit a Fictionwise sale--they quite often offer a 100% rebate on new releases, so if I pay, say, $9.99 for a book, they give me back $9.99 to spend on something else. I also download almost all of the free ebooks that I run across. I have a huge library of unread books and magazines, plus a few of my favorite books, so I never have to be without something to read.

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7 comments:

Mary said...

Funny. I noticed the same thing about listening to the news. When I listen to Garrison Keillor CDs on the way to work, I arrive in a much better mood.

I read on my Kindle at lunchtime (when possible)...preferably outside...and that helps, too.

Basically, I agree with your entire list.

Teri said...

Yep, soon you will be calling me ;)
I start work at Netflix next week!It seems like a great company to work for.

I've not had much time for movies or books lately. I think I may have to try audible.com. I've been tempted by it before.

Willa said...

That's great, Teri! Congratulations!

Liora said...

I can so relate, Willa! I can actually feel my body tensing up when I read or watch the news. It's worse watching it, I guess, because I can't filter what I'm seeing before I've seen it. But even online, clicking on the headlines that grab usually leads to more stress. It can be blissful to go on a news diet. Still we hear the news around us. You can't even go to a bagel shop without people talking about the economy and whatnot. I don't think we're missing anything important.

I love those same gadgets you love. There's an ebook on Amazon called the How of Happiness. It's actually a somewhat scientific book about different exercises, like gratitude, visualization, etc. and how often to do them and so on. Kind of interesting to read and find which exercises are likely to give you the best results.

But I'm so happy to be born in the age of the Internet, ebooks, and iphones. :)

Glad to see you posting again. I was getting concerned you were going to close shop.

Liora said...

p.s. Can I suggest RunKeeperPro for the iPhone? I think you'd really love it for tracking your walks and posting pictures. You can see the features at www.runkeeper.com.

Willa said...

I guess it's kind of ridiculous to be so sensitive to the news; when Bob comes home late after work and we're sitting in front of the television eating (which I know is awful, but oh well), he keeps the remote handy so he can switch the channel if something comes on that he knows will bother me. I like to say, "I don't want that in my head." Like you say, I hear enough bad stuff all day just living, I don't want to watch it intentionally. :)

Sharon said...

Willa, I feel the same way about the news. I could go on forever and never hear the news again and I would be very happy. I like the idea of listening to a book during my commute. I've done that several times and I really like it.