Weekend Reading – The happiness and engagement edition

Weekend Reading – The happiness and engagement edition

Well hello!

Happy Canada Day long weekend!

Happiness and engagement - Canada Day

Welcome to a new Weekend Reading post: the happiness and engagement edition

Before we get into this week’s theme, here are some of my latest posts:

I provided an update on our financial goals, including some plans related to semi-retirement!

I also recently posted and answered a handful of great reader questions in this post here.

Weekend Reading – The happiness and engagement edition

At work, I found a good LinkedIn Learning module this week – about happiness.

First, before my reflections, some interesting stats and takeaways from the module:

  • About 53% of American workers are disengaged at work to some degree.
  • Brain science tells us that we all seek value, engagement and belonging.
  • This science tells us happiness is a direction (not a destination).
  • By design, nature has wired our brains towards some negativity bias and the propensity towards stress and survival (i.e., there is a lion ready to attack us around the corner!) As such, we need to re-wire our brains and practice happiness. Otherwise, our brains will continually default to stress or anger or disengagement (i.e., being SAD).
  • “Pleasure has an expiration date.” “Happiness is derived in the pursuit of purpose and meaning.”
  • Brain science research shows in general terms: happiness is the acceptance of change.

Interesting stuff!

And, on happiness from The Knowledge Project Podcast:

“Yale’s happiness professor Laurie Santos and I sat down to discuss the factors contributing to happiness, evidence-based methods to boost happiness, and why it’s crucial to protect yourself from unhappy people.

I think where we go astray when we’re seeking out happiness is that we have these misconceptions. We think happiness is about achieving accolades. It’s not.

We often think happiness is about self-care, treating ourselves, and giving ourselves these luxuries. It’s not. In fact, if anything, it’s about doing nice things for others. That gives you more of a happiness bang for your buck than spending time on yourself.”

Listen here with the show notes from Laurie.

A bit to unpack above but I will be brief…

I must say, the words “practice happiness” really reasonated with me.

I can be hard on myself (at times) but I’m learning and practicing happiness more to get out of my own way…being more mindful how I feel and why I feel how I feel.

Meaning, I’m reminding myself I get to choose my responses and how I feel about things. 

Any beyond that, if something doesn’t feel quite right, well, I might just say “no” to something 🙂

As part of practicing happiness, I’m also trying to do more things for me and others – some simple examples include walking, biking, golfing, and some other activities more frequently that I enjoy. I’m focusing some of my energy on those things while being more generous, giving back to others, more things in balance…

The brain science and many sub-fields related to positive psychology has made it consistently clear that practicing happiness is not trying to feel happy when I don’t. Instead, I’m trying to shift my attitudes and then my behaviour more often, over time in the following ways:

  1. Spending more time on things I enjoy and/or my strengths. I’d like to think I have some strengths as a person so I’m trying to bring those strengths and aptitudes to work, home, and play more often. (Maybe this is why I’m so excited for part-time work in a few years…I feel “I’m ready” for a better balance.)
  2. Scaling back on stuff. Downsizing to this condo made sense for many reasons. I/we simply don’t need much “stuff” to be happy and if anything, too much stuff causes me stress and anxiety. My wife and I have donated countless possessions over the years to others’ in need and if/when we have the chance to declutter more over time we’ll absolutely do so of course. 
  3. Scaling back personally. We’re often too busy to pause, reflect and simplify things including our time. Well, I’d like to think I’ve worked on that quite a bit over the years and certainly the pandemic was a big trigger for me to do more of that – pause, slow down, think, relax, do less. By slowing down, I can take the necessary time to challenge my own assumptions (my judgments or my fears) more which has been a rewarding practice to ensure I’m more intune with why I feel the way I do. I hope to practice more personal inquiry in the coming years…

“Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.”
— Buddha

Thoughts and your comments about all of this?

How much dedicated time do you take for personal reflection?

I wish all readers and subscribers a very Happy Canada Day long weekend.

Stay safe, safe well and enjoy!


More Weekend Reading…

Here are other articles I found quite interesting this week:

Of Dollars and Data suggested you think outside the portfolio. Here is an example, when it comes to battling higher inflation and/or near-term market uncertainty:

As an aspiring retiree, consider:

  1. Working part-time.
  2. Lowering your spending.
  3. Being flexible – delaying or deferring spending.

5i Research reminds us that dividends stocks are not bonds.

Some key takeaways:

“In some cases, dividend stocks can be a loose proxy for bonds, however, stocks on average have higher risks, volatility and a higher chance of permanent loss of capital, compared to bonds. In turn, we typically do not like to view any equities as a proxy for bonds but in some instances and cases, an argument could be made. For some, capital preservation and payment visibility are of utmost importance, bonds fit the bill better here. Investigating your goals and understanding your portfolio objectives will help you navigate portfolio construction and understand return contributions better.”

Ben Carlson from A Wealth of Common Sense wondered: has the U.S. consumer ever been more prepared for any pending recession?

“But consumers are wealthier now than they’ve ever been. They have a huge cash hoard. They have record levels of home equity. And a lot of people locked in very low borrowing rates on their largest financial asset.”

I worry (and have been worried) that some Canadians have been overwhelmed by debt and it will only get worse from here with higher interest rates but sadly the writing has been on the financial wall for some time now…

What’s the tipping point for some in Canada? 

Beyond here and now, is there a looming retirement crisis in Canada?

“Seventy-five per cent of all Canadians agree there is an emerging retirement crisis in Canada and 72 per cent feel that saving for retirement is prohibitively expensive – both up seven points over last year. And, if current trends continue, it will be tougher for younger generations.”

Reader question of the week (adapted slightly for the site):

Hi Mark,

I hope you are well. I have been following your blog for sometime and I have a question that I would like your input on.

In about 4 years, I would like to move to part-time work (like you I think!).

I figure I need about $4,000 to $4,600 a month to live on comfortably. I would like to supplement part of my retirement income through my investments. Thoughts on doing this via monthly dividends? How much might I need and what returns should I expect?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much.

Thank you for your readership and question. 

Well, I have this post here, speaking with a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) from Vancouver about his detailed thoughts on generating retirement income.

To your question, more directly, you already know from my site this is my plan in a nutshell:

  1. Semi-retire, still have some income to pay my bills and have some fun with, and
  2. Rely on my/our portfolio for some semi-retirement income.

So, “thoughts on doing this” via monthly and/or quarterly dividends is exactly my plan!

This was my latest monthly income update here – we now earn about $73 per day from a few key accounts.

In terms of how much dividend income you might need, that depends on a few factors including how much you will consistently earn in part-time income, what you’re invested in, what yield can be reasonably delivered from your portfolio and much more.

Recall, dividends are just part of total return, albeit a very important one and should be to many investors as they consider retirement IMO:

Honest Math - Dividends

Reference: Honest Math – Dividends

(For the record: I have a blend of some A but mostly B from the graphic above in my portfolio. Your mileage may vary. In fact, for years, I have a few companies and ETFs that pay very little dividends or distributions at all, but they do. Gasp!)

Lastly, I would guess however, this post will give you some insights into how much and how long your portfolio might last if you want to spend between $4,000 to $4,600 per month in retirement.

Yet More Weekend Reading…

A nice roundup of trying to make sense of the markets with thanks to Jon Chevreau. 

Thanks to Dale Roberts for another mention in his latest Sunday Reads – always a read in my inbox.

Related to Dale’s Twitter banter:

Bulls and Bears Markets

And finally for fun:

Weather Stone


Have a great weekend and thanks for reading this happiness and engagement Weekend Reading edition. 


My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

4 Responses to "Weekend Reading – The happiness and engagement edition"

  1. Thank you so much for this post Mark! I enjoyed every word of it especially the talk about ” Happiness” and It’s 100% true for myself I found that staying away from negative and unhappy people is the best thing I can do and also help other people and make them happy has a great reward way way better then spending time and money on making yourself happy because that fades away so quick.

    As for the investing part I honestly don’t worry at all since I hold about 26 strong companies that I believe in their ability to weather the storm and like they say after every storm there is a rainbow 🙂
    I’ve got no room to contribute on our accounts I wish I did because a lot of good companies are on sale but I hope the market will stay down for a while so I can receive those drips on discounted prices, it’s amazing how switching my investing strategy from index to DGI changed the way I think about the market fluctuations before I was to focused on capital fluctuation but now it’s all about those growing drips:)
    Have a great Canada long weekend everyone and Thank God we live in this great country.

    1. Yes, staying away from unhappy people is very key!

      “As for the investing part I honestly don’t worry at all since I hold about 26 strong companies that I believe in their ability to weather the storm and like they say after every storm there is a rainbow 🙂 ”

      Love it.

      Hope you’re having a great long weekend.

  2. Hope you are enjoying Canada Day in Ottawa, Mark.
    Dividend stocks might not be magical, but I like what Tom Connolly said about the dividend stocks on his list:
    “It’s a matter, though, of how the list is worked”
    If you can understand what he means, then you will understand why dividends are magical.

    ps: Guess I’ll drop cannew, after all these years.


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