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Create a Traffic Jam: Change the World and Find Your Joy

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? -Mary Oliver

Create a Traffic Jam: Change the World and Find Your Joy

What does it mean to create a traffic jam? And why should you do it? Today’s episode explores the power of small acts to make big changes, and how doing so can actually make your life happier and full of meaning. Our challenge today focuses on how you can give back, change the world, and getting a little bit happier.

Key Takeaways

  • Creating a traffic jam requires the belief in possibility, bravery of perserverence, and accessing power. This combination is, to borrow from Brené Brown, what is means to 'dare greatly,' which she borrows from a 1910 speech given by Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
  • One person daring greatly has the power to create lasting impact, even with the smallest actions. I liken this to a traffic jam: it takes only one person in one car to create a monster traffic jam impacting thousands and stopping traffic.

  • Research shows that 'creating a traffic jam' can make you happier too: people who volunteer and who give in meaningful ways are much more likely to be happy. This has been found in many studies across the globe.

  • This podcast is named Happy & Free after an ancient writing from the Vedas: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, which means, "May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom." It not only address everyone has the right to happiness and freedom, but also explains we each have a responsibility to ensure them. The root of Bhavantu includes "antu" in Sanskrit, which translates and "guardian" or "protector." This is a call to action that we are all responsible for doing what we can to ensure happiness and freedom for all.

Today’s Challenge

Create a traffic jam by taking a small action and giving back in ways that can have long lasting and powerful impacts.

  1. Find a meaningful way to give back. Ask yourself: "What breaks my heart?" The things that touch you and affect you the most will certainly be meaninful ways to give back. The biggest happiness boost comes from the most meaninful engagement, and with that you can find the lasting purpose that Seligman says "comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself, and developing the best within you."

  2. Create a give back plan and give your time, or your time and money, to this effort. A give back does not need to cost you any money to make a difference or to make you happier! While you may not be able to actually volunteer today, you can create your action plan, and place a call or send an email to start the ball rolling (or the cars stopping, as the case may be!)


Brené Brown "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Doing well by doing good. The relationship between formal volunteering and self-reported health and happiness from social science and medicine

A Summer's Day read by Mary Oliver

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