Archive for December, 2013

Secret of Happiness + Holiday Gift Guide

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

So, this post is a bit long, but it’s the most important one I’ve made all year. A few years from now, I hope to have written a book exploring how to be happy. But in the meantime, I can give you some of the best information on happiness currently existing. Studies have shown that your happiness is strongly affected by the happiness of your friends, and this effect persists through multiple degrees, so your happiness is also influenced by the happiness of your friends’ friends, and even their friends. The upshot of this is that a great way for you to become happier is to increase the happiness of your friends, as well as (if you’re a friend or FoaF of mine) the happiness of my friends.

There have also been numerous studies associating prosocial spending with happiness, which is to say, spending money on others, especially your friends, makes you happier.

Conveniently, I have a plan that will accomplish all of this at once. My friends are really talented, and make cool stuff. So if you bought the cool stuff they made, they would be happier. Then if you gifted that cool stuff to your friends, *they* would be happier. And having given this gift, you would be happier. So you can directly increase your happiness, and the happiness of your friends, and the happiness of your friends’ friends (the latter two of which also increase your happiness), all by buying a little gift from this list to give to a friend of yours.

FOAF Holiday Gift Guide 2013


Yes, I threw my books in there as well, but let’s talk about my friends (linked names denote additional gifts for sale):

While I was at a humor writing conference, I met Kelly Potter and Michele Wojciechowski (whose name is never typed, only copied and pasted), and Jenn Dlugos.
At college I met “Terry Lee Wright” whose above book is about child slavery.
At college I also met Margaret Ronald, who in addition to engrossing short stories, has written the urban fantasy Spiral Hunt trilogy.
Ethan Zuckerman technically lives locally, but is oft traveling the world talking and writing about technology.
Rachel Barenblat, his wife, is a poet and Rabbi whose study and spirituality informs her poetry.
Over the past few years, through WordXWord I’ve had the good fortune to meet an incredible group of spoken word poets in the Write Bloody cabal. Taylor Mali is probably the most famous, but I’ve also been moved by Robbie Q Telfer, Anis Mojgani, Derrick Brown, Jon Sands, and Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.
Howard Cruse is a big name in queer and underground comics circles and award-winning graphic novelist, not to mention a delightful host of occasional local arts gatherings.
Dan Carroll, an old highschool friend, is the creator of Stick Figure Hamlet.
Lex Friedman, my summer co-improv teacher, erstwhile comedy partner, and parallel universe self, is always amusing whether he’s just blogging, or parodying Dr. Seuss.


These were not solo endeavors, as games require many people, but college friends of mine worked on each of these games. Niko White on EPIC and Battlegrounds, Jeff Dougherty on Hell of Stalingrad, and on the video game side, Jess Scott and Mike Veloso on Rock Band.

In college I also met conductor Allegra Martin, whose women’s chorale is now accompanied by organist Josh Lawton, a mutual college friend.
Though my nerdy rap endeavors, I’ve met a number of interesting people, but two who I’ve kept chatting with on occasion are MC Frontalot and MegaRan, two of the bigger names in the dubiously defined Nerdcore genre.

Geez, I sure have a lot of talented friends from college, including the inimitable Katy Dieber and local writer Emily Banner, both who make jewelry.
Elissa Shevinsky, another college friend, is selling T-shirts.
I would definitely not want to go through winter without wearing custom-knit wool socks made by Debbie Baker, my personal chef. For locals, she also has knit shawls and felted bags. But then again, I’m informed that someone else is already doing a Berkshires Local List, so for this page I’ll stick with gifts created by my friends you can have shipped anywhere in the U.S.

Anyway, if you remember all those happiness studies from way back when this post started, you’ll recall that the best way to increase your happiness is to buy this awesome stuff from my friends and gift it to your friends. Failing that, share this page with your friends, who will still increase your happiness in multiple ways if they buy stuff from my friends for their friends. Thanks!

I bid you all increased happiness.