☝️ Upwarding #7: Whale populations, “Get to” vs. “Have to”, Credit Card Rewards, and Fake Smiles

Welcome to this week's Upwarding newsletter. Issue #7


This week I had one of the most memorable moments of my life. I saw two humpback whales breeching. Like this:

Want some good news? Humpback whales almost went extinct in certain parts of the world in the 1990s, but they have staged a major comeback. By the way, so have bald eagles and honeybees.


I am amazed at the power of language to shape our thoughts. One we use a lot in my household is rephrasing “I have to” with “I get to”. “I have to do the dishes” vs. “I get to do the dishes”. It’s a nice happiness hack. Here’s a good post about it from a spirituality blog.


If you’re having trouble motivating for a workout, I strongly recommend working out with a friend. Even though I don’t love running, I run every Tuesday with my friend Zack. The benefits are: 1) accountability – once you commit to a time you can’t bail on someone else as easily as you can skip a workout yourself. 2) you get in shape. 3) you build a friendship. I can’t recommend it more highly – it’s a true triple-win. If that’s not enough, here are some other benefits.

I’ve done it backwards by making friends/being friendly with people I see regularly at my gym and yoga studio.


Because I’m obsessed with optimizing things (which likely makes me less happy) I spent a lot of time figuring out the best credit card rewards program. I’ve settled on a cash back credit card (you should get at least 2% on everything) for most purchases, plus a rewards credit card for business purchases. But the best credit card “reward” may be from not using one at all. Here’s my take on the number of credit cards you should have. And here’s some further reading on why people spend more when they use plastic.

Random Thought

Some of the best medical advice I’ve received is from nurses. Nurses see and talk to a lot of patients, so they are further from “studies” and closer to “experience”. A nurse at an allergy clinic once told me she was surprised by how many people report that their allergies cleared up when they gave up or significantly restricted dairy. For numerous reasons including malpractice concerns, the huge time constraints doctors are under, and mixed results from poorer quality studies, you likely won’t hear this from an allergy doc. But it undoubtedly worked for me – I went from using allergy medicine every single day to almost never.


People are told to hold a pencil in their mouth while they make a smiling face. “Even if people don’t realize they’re smiling, the signals created by the upturned corners of the mouth feed back to their brain and automatically boost their mood”. I’m a fan of being authentic but apparently sometimes you just have to fake it.

Maybe Aaron Burr in Hamilton was right – talk less, smile more…

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