A Simple and Effective Way to Nurture Long-Term Happiness
Living Social was recently hacked—over 50 million user names and passwords were stolen. No credit card information was gained but if your password is the same or similar on other sites, it will be easy for hackers to get in to your other accounts. Many sources say cracking the encrypted passwords is easier than the company makes it out to be, (1) but even with your date of birth and other details the hackers will have an easier time stealing your identity.
The simplest way to protect yourself is to take a few minutes and change the passwords you use on major sites, making sure they are all different. Facebook, Gmail, Amazon, your banks, bills, and of course DailyHap, so that if any one of these sites gets hacked the personal damage will stop there. Remember that size doesn’t mean safety: the bigger the site the bigger the target.
Passwords and Happiness
You may wonder why changing your passwords could help you be happier. It’s tricky for me to explain because I don’t want to send the wrong message: making decisions to avoid unhappiness is a recipe for unhappiness because we’re operating from fear. We’re ironically worried about the future, intent on protecting our future selves from worry.
On the other hand, I want to encourage taking practical steps to avoid harm and frustration. If we’re avoiding dealing with our worry, we’re just repressing our fears, keeping them from ever releasing, and setting ourselves up for deeper emotional pain.
Somehow we strike a balance between nurturing future happiness without getting carried away the future and forgetting to honor the present.
How to Decide
I look for actionable steps that are easy to implement and proven to be effective. In this case, changing the passwords doesn’t require a ton of effort and I can easily see the logic between how it will help. Another example is wearing a bike helmet: It’s easy, proven to help, and doesn’t impinge upon the reason I bike—for transportation and pleasure. Even if it did decrease my short term pleasure, getting a head injury would decrease my pleasure so much in the long term that I’d still decide to wear the helmet.
In other instances I might choose not to act for future gains because the payoff will actually harm my end goal. For example, if I bought every extended warranty, I’d spend more money overall than I’d save having to pay to fix the one item that will break.
How do you decide? What’s the principle behind it? After you change your passwords, leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.