What I Learned about Happiness at the SXSW Conference.

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I just got back to New York City; I was out of town for a few days at the SXSW conference in Austin. This is one of the biggest conferences for bloggers, and I’d never been, so I decided to take the plunge this year and go.

It was a lot of fun, and a very valuable experience, and from a happiness-project perspective, it reminded me of several things:

Novelty and challenge boost happiness. Going to a new city, meeting a lot of new people, being in a different environment, all boosted my happiness. Along the same lines…

— An atmosphere of growth brings happiness. I learned a lot at the conference, both from the official panels and from the unofficial conversations I had, and that gave me a feeling of intellectual excitement and growth.

— Taking a break from a common thing can make it seem like a treat. When I got home, just having a kitchen again felt very exciting.

— Used right, technology helps build relationships. Although it might seem that technology pushes people apart, or allows them to avoid interacting, actually people use technology to try to connect. Every single person at the conference was eagerly trying to meet in person the people they already knew well on-line.

Sleep is important to happiness. Away from my children and my usual schedule, I got more sleep than usual, and I could really feel the difference in my energy level — and I make a big effort to get a lot of sleep, as it is.

One of my ongoing happiness-project challenges is to fight my instinct to say dismissively, “Well, doing X or Y might be useful or fun, but it would be a big hassle, and it would take a lot of time, and probably cost a fair amount, and maybe it would be a big waste.” In fact, I’m always glad when I push myself to try something new. I debated a long time about whether to go to the conference, but I’m very HAPPY that I did.

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It was terrific to meet up with a lot of my fellow bloggers and to hear others speak. Some highlights: Communicatrix, Tony Hsieh, The Fluent Self, Chris Brogan, Career Renegade, IttyBix, Work Happy Now, Escape from Cubicle Nation, Wine Library TV/Gary Vaynerchuk, Shama Hyder, Penelope Trunk, David Eckoff.

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If you want to partake in the SXSW vibe even though you’d never go, start using Twitter.

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