Happiness At Work ~ a route map to edition 5 (3rd August 2012)

Welcome to this week’s Happiness & Wellbeing At Work collection of stories, ideas, images and sounds.

Our Top Happiness & Wellbeing Story This Week

We actually posted different versions this story in last week’s collection, but with all the emotions of the Olympics and the heightened sense of being one joined up interconnected world this gives us, the findings from the Stanford Study showing how important a sense of AWE is for us all seem especially relevant – as individuals as much as for our continued survival and evolution as a species…

The Benefits of Being Awestruck

We lose our sense of awe at our own peril, however. The title of a new Stanford study tells you all you need to know: Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being. Apparently, watching awe-inspiring vidoes makes you less impatient, more willing to volunteer time to help others, more likely to prefer experiences over material products, more present in the here and now, and happier overall.

When do people feel as if they are rich in time?  Not often, research and daily experience suggest.

However, three experiments showed that participants who felt awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available and were less impatient. Participants who experienced awe were also more willing to volunteer their time to help others, more strongly preferred experiences over material products, and experienced a greater boost in life satisfaction. Mediation analyses revealed that these changes in decision making and well-being were due to awe’s ability to alter the subjective experience of time. Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.

A Three-Movement Choral Suite Based on Carl Sagen

Enjoy this choral response to this theme…

“Something incredible is waiting to be known.”  Carl Sagen

Stories still coming from last week’s ONS initial report into the wellbeing of people in the UK…

ONS publishes first data from wellbeing survey, UK

Three-quarters of people aged 16 and over rate their satisfaction with their lives as ‘seven’ on a scale of 0 to 10, according to the first results from the survey of subjective wellbeing carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Want to know how to be happy? It’s complicated!

Earlier this week, the Office of National Statistics released the first annual results of its ‘Measuring National Wellbeing Programme’.

They found that people’s perceived quality of life varies according to who they are, what groups they are part of – gender, ethnicity, profession – and where they live.

But what do these happiness figures actually tell us? Can they lead individuals, communities or policy-makers to work out how to make things better?

For politicians and policy-makers these numbers could become something of a barometer, an indicator of how various policies are working, especially if measured over time. But how do they help us make decisions about what will improve our own wellbeing?

Comment: The British Search For Happiness

In Western societies there has been a tendency to link happiness and prosperity, and although most people will agree that “you can’t buy happiness”, they will persist in the belief that greater wealth will make them happier. Numerous studies have shown that an increase in income may indeed result in a short-term increase of happiness, but this increase will not last. These studies have revealed a paradox which suggests that rather than produce greater happiness increased wealth can have the opposite effect. This may seem baffling to most of us who are struggling to get increase profits or get that raise but it is something that Eastern tradition has acknowledged for centuries. It is summed up succinctly in a Buddhist proverb: “No food, one problem. Much money, many problems.”

The ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus claimed that the only path to happiness is to cease worrying about things which are beyond our power to change. This is not to say that people should not strive to make things better, but that they should not worry too much if they do not succeed.

Former US president Roosevelt once described happiness as “the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort” and in western societies people have become so focused on achievement that they sometimes lose sight of their limitations.

Whilst the onset of hot weather and the start of the Olympic Games might give us a much needed boost of joy, we can rest assured that even if the rains return and Team GB fails to win a single medal, the stoical people of Britain will still be able to muster a smile at themselves and continue their elusive search for happiness.

Why Cameron’s happiness agenda can only backfire

The government’s changes to housing and disability benefits, cuts to mental health services and the drastic reduction in legal aid are making people miserable.

Perhaps it’s time some kindly soul had a private word in the prime ministerial ear. Dear Mr Cameron, thank you so much for the interest you’ve shown in my happiness. I really appreciate everything you’re trying to do to help me, so please don’t take offence if I tell you that, actually, you’re making me quite unhappy. Perhaps we could meet for a cup of tea and I’ll tell you a few simple things you could do that would make me a whole lot happier. I’d have told you before but I never knew you cared.

What makes us happy? Family, future dreams and lying half-naked in a park

The government’s Index of Wellbeing, which measures how happy we are, revealed last week that being 65, married and a homeowner are the secrets to joy. Here, three people from different generations tell us what makes them content

Tim Lott: You’ve Got To Fight For Your Right To Frown

Smart, creative people aren’t going to figure [high in any Happiness Index] because they tend to suffer a disproportionate amount of unhappiness. Bruce Springsteen, who revealed last week that he was suicidal at the height of his success in the 1980s, is just one of the endless examples.

One research finding after another has demonstrated that happy people have a less accurate view of reality than depressed people. All this leads me to an uncomfortable conclusion for happiness academics – being happy is not the most important thing in life.

People who are unhappy are perceived as dangerous failures. So-called “negative” people are to be shunned, as if they carried a dangerous, transmutable virus.

There has been a spate of literature that suggests that it is the happy people who are the sick ones. Eric G Wilson’s Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy points out how “generative melancholy” can be a hugely creative force. Barbara Ehrenreich’s Smile or Die is a counterblast against American “positive thinking”, the idea that every disaster or setback is an “opportunity” for “moving on”.

But the world is run not by realistic melancholic introverts, but fantasising, optimistic extroverts – politicians, for instance, and bankers. This is good, to an extent. We need people who can believe in success against all the odds – believe that anything can be possible, believe that change can come, believe that they can make huge unearned profits.

But we need pessimists too. Sadness should not be taboo – it should be respected, like the priest and the funeral director. We treat it like the embarrassing guest at the wedding, we want it to shut up and go away, but it is in all our hearts and so it should be.

Springsteen would never score highly on the national happiness index. Neither would I, or most of the people I admire. I like happy people, and I like to be around them. But don’t disown the frown.

Still, mustn’t grumble, eh?

It was in struggling to find the essence of Britishness that the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, struck upon the common thread that runs through the nation; the expression “mustn’t grumble”.

That is, of course, often the prelude to a grumble. And given the weather this summer, plus the £9bn cost of staging the Olympic Games, we’ve surely earned the right to a world-class whinge should we wish one.

This week, the economic news has given us plenty more opportunity. Yet it’s a ledger of wellbeing that is being stacked heavily with information on both sides.

Perhaps the most circular element of wellbeing is defined as “the value of recognising the importance of well-being in the lives of consumers and customers”.

That is, it adds to your wellbeing to know that someone cares about your wellbeing. That makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Simply being asked what we think can make us feel a bit more, well, worthwhile.

This stuff is easily derided. But it’s worth noting that a withering dismissal from Labour brought the strongest rebuke to his own side that I’ve seen in the five years since Lord Jack McConnell left the Scottish Labour leadership. He reckons wellbeing and mental health must be taken much more seriously in politics.

More Happiness & Wellbeing Stories This Week

Olympicstastic! From Grumpy to Happy ! – Shelley Silas

I can understand if you don’t like or care about sport, but this is about so much more, a community and city coming together, collective enjoyment, London being transformed in a way it probably never will be again in my life time, of people being happy, talking to each other, getting into the spirit of the games and having fun…

And during all of this, I have been overcome by how lovely people have been, in the streets, in tubes, school kids and parents and teachers, total strangers, all out there enjoying what I am enjoying, laughing and having fun and bringing us together. I know the world isn’t in great shape, and while we are enjoying, people are being slaughtered and wars continue, I don’t think any of us is unaware of that, but it’s a joy to let go of it for a short time, to revel in our stunning city, at what the organisers have actually worked towards, an amazing feat of planning and skill and creativity. And I find that I am happy and excited and enthused and passionate and I hope I can stay this way, when the Olympics and Paralympics end and London is restored to its usual beautiful self, when the sand has gone and the grass is restored, when I am allowed into the pool for a length or two, and the city returns to normal. And I will use public transport more because it works, and it has been easy and a joy to let someone else do the driving.

Happiness On The Podium – OECD Better Life Index

“The Olympic movement gives the world an ideal which reckons with the reality of life”, so said Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern games: This ideal goes far beyond the world of sports and echoes a universal quest for happiness and well-being. It is also a valuable reminder that while keeping track of reality, one should constantly strive towards a better life.

The Olympics are all about universality and humanity, opposing nations in sport while uniting people throughout the world. The three Olympic values, of “excellence”, “friendship” and “respect” underline the universal appeal of the Olympic Movement.

His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck King of Bhutan, when outlining his vision of “Gross National Happiness”, referred to similar ideals: “As citizens of the world, our unifying force, our strength must come from something that is not bound by nation, ethnicity or religion – from fundamental human values. Values shape the future of humanity.” How do we reconcile these ideals with everyday life concerns? If asked about the Olympics, Londoners are more likely to raise more mundane concerns, revolving around overcrowded streets and the difficulty of obtaining tickets for their favourite sporting event. So can we say citizens around the world unite in their definition of happiness and do their priorities coincide? Well not really, to judge by people’s choices when building their own Better Life Index.

Some common trends across countries emerge. Governance, for example, is surprisingly unimportant to many people…Life satisfaction and health, on the other hand, are very popular across the board…

London 2012: let’s turn our Olympics venues into community arts centres

Crispin Truman: the long-term legacy of the games depends on a bottom-up approach, not a top-down volunteering model

St Paul's Church, Circomedia

If churches can do it, so can we: St Paul’s Church, Bristol, home to Circomedia. Photograph: Circomedia

If we believe Sebastian Coe, London 2012 legacy plans are further ahead than that of any previous Olympic host city with the best in sustainable, inclusive and innovative architecture. But to deliver a positive and lasting legacy of economic impact, social cohesion and enhanced community identity, it is imperative that we adopt a bottom-up, community and volunteer led approach. It’s also imperative that we turn our Olympic venues into long-lasting, community-serving sites. Reusing and regenerating them as arts and culture venues is just one of the possibilities…

‘Happiest Olympic Worker’ video sensation, Rachel Onasanwo, talks to the Daily News

Rachel Onasanwo, 23, became the talk of the Olympics Monday after a video showing her enthusiastically welcoming the crowds to the opening ceremony went viral.

84% of British holidaymakers claim holidays are worth more than the money they spend on them

Kuoni Travel and Nuffield Health have revealed 84 per cent of British holidaymakers claim holidays are worth more to them in terms of wellbeing than the money they spend on them.

The UK’s largest healthcare charity and Kuoni Travel surveyed 2,845 UK adults between 14 April to 30 June 2012 to find out how a holiday can help to alleviate the effects that everyday life has on the public’s mental and physical wellbeing.

The research showed that taking a break can improve people’s lives in four key ways:

– It enables to break out of a routine

– Offers an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones

– Puts a fresh perspective on people’s lives

– Enables us to relax and recharge our batteries

Our economic ruin means freedom for the super-rich

A programme that promised freedom and choice has instead produced something resembling a totalitarian capitalism, in which no one may dissent from the will of the market and in which the market has become a euphemism for big business. It offers freedom all right, but only to those at the top.

Clinging to Economic Growth Suffocates the Imagination

Listen to the news today and you would think that economic growth was the only answer to all our problems. But 40 years ago The Limits to Growth, written by a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and published by The Club of Rome, broke a modern taboo: it suggested that growth itself might be the problem….

There is a popular view that economic growth can be saved by efficiency measures, recycling and technological substitution, such as nuclear and renewable energy replacing fossil fuels. Yet the model allowed even for these variables, and crashed under the pressure of growth just the same…

Clinging to growth suffocates the imagination needed to devise more convivial ways to share a finite planet. At the very least, and with so much evidence to the contrary, the burden of proof now lies heavily on those who reject the original message of the Limits report, for them to demonstrate how, and under what circumstances, we could possibly enjoy “growth forever” in a finite world. Kenneth Boulding, the founder of general systems theory, thought this to be a view held only by “madmen and economists”.

“Localization is the Economics of Happiness”

We know what makes us happy—but too often our economic decisions stand in the way. Helena Norberg-Hodge, director of the Economics of Happiness and winner of the 2012 Goi Peace Award, on how to change all that.

Our global economy is effective at many things—moving huge quantities of goods across great distances, for example, or turning mortgages into profits. What it’s not so good at is determining whether these activities are worthwhile when it comes to improving the lives of the people who live and work within the economy (not to mention preserving the natural systems on which the whole shebang depends). In many cases, economic policies that increase trade or production actually decrease well-being for millions, even billions, of people.

 That’s the reality that’s leading more people (and, increasingly, governments, from Bhutan and Bolivia to Britain and France) to ask a very simple question: What’s the economy for, anyway? Do the rules and policies we create to govern the flow of money and goods exist to create ever more money and goods, or to improve our lives? And if we decide we’d like to prioritize the latter, how do we rewrite the rules to do that?

The Economics of Happiness tackles these questions on six continents, examining ways our economic decisions promote, and diminish, human happiness. I spoke with Helena Norberg-Hodge, the film’s director and the founder of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, about what her research tells us about the relationship between economics and happiness.

Wellbeing, sustainability and economic prosperity: connecting the dots

Addressing these issues collectively rather than pitting them against one another is key for creating a better future

The ONS’s broader conception of wellbeing, which is based on the public’s views, offers greater potential for compatibility. For example, there are strong links between healthy lifestyles and sustainable lifestyles. If Britons ate more vegetables and less meat, we’d be healthier, and so would the planet. Sustainable travel behaviours (eg driving less, and cycling and walking more) can improve fitness, reduce stress, reduce traffic and improve air quality.

These links between wellbeing, sustainability and economic prosperity should be central to the government’s thinking as it seeks a positive agenda beyond deficit reduction. Unfortunately, ministerial responsibility for the three objectives is spread across several departments: the Cabinet Office leads on wellbeing, Defra on sustainable development, the Department of Energy and Climate Change on climate policy and the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on economic policy. This casts the three critical issues of our time as competing priorities, when in fact there are huge opportunities to develop complementary policies and solutions, and create a better future for people and the planet.

Cows’ social habits ‘may be a way to improve wellbeing’

HOW cows make friends is to be investigated in a three-year study.  Scientists want to understand more about “social networking” within Britain’s dairy herds.

The aim is to help farmers improve the health and welfare of their cows, thereby increasing milk yields.

Study leader Dr Darren Croft, from the University of Exeter’s Animal Behaviour Research Group, said: “Emerging evidence on wild animal populations supports the idea that the group structure and relationships between the animals affect their health and wellbeing.

Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation’s progress. If you’re going to prioritize happiness, the Bhutanese thinking goes, you’d better include the environment and spiritual and mental well-being in your calculations.

 But Bhutan, which has only 700,000 people — most of whom are farmers — has another shot at international fame if it can make good on a recent pledge to become the first country in the world to convert to a 100 percent organic agricultural system.

Sustainable Happiness — Lessons From Bhutan

I recently had the pleasure to sit down with the honorable Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigme Y. Thinley. He had profound things to say about the importance of Gross National Happiness for individuals, as well as for societies looking at the well-being of their citizens. Here are some ideas that can increase your long-term happiness.

More money does not equal more happiness. As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “[Gross National Product] fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress. We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental wellbeing are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.”

Social Well-Being:  “No man (or woman) is an island. We are part of the whole.” — John Dunne. People need people — it’s pretty simple. Yes, food and shelter are imperative, but “after the baseline has been met happiness varies more with the quality of human relationships than income.” What then helps create good relationships?

• Thoughts Influence Actions: How you respond to a situation often influences the outcome. Are the thoughts that you are thinking (and the actions that result from them) making the situation better or worse? People often feel your intentions and thoughts even if it they are not spoken. Being present to your thoughts is powerful.

• Practice Gratitude: This is one of the foundations of sustainable happiness. If you regularly jot down or even notice three things you are grateful for, you can raise your happiness level substantially. By focusing on what brings you happiness, whether it’s a smile, a sunset or a sweet conversation, you will become attuned to that and notice it in the most unexpected places. Do it for 28 days and you’ll see the change.

• To Feel Good, Do Good: The kindness that you extend another helps them, but actually serves you even more. It provides a long lasting good feeling that no one can take away. One of my favorite quotes is: “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” — Saint Basil. Create the community that you want to be part of.

Economic Well-Being: One thing that has perhaps been forgotten is that “economies exist to serve the well-being of people; not visa versa.” What does that really mean?

• Success and Happiness: Many people share the belief that happiness comes after you achieve success. “If I just had this salary, title or toy, then I could…” New research states that if you want to be more productive and more successful, cultivating happiness is the way to get there. “Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than at negative, neutral or stressed … The hormone dopamine that permeates your system when you are positive also turns on all the learning centers in the brain.” To influence your bottom line and your well-being, activate your happiness.

• The Idea of Balance: Having high-quality work definitely contributes to happiness, but focusing on the material pursuit alone can cause major stress and depression. The happiest countries in the world value a vibrant community, trusting relationships and time together over the workaholic attitude that more is more. Economic well-being is important, but so is the balance that comes with a meaningful and connected life.

Environmental Well-Being: Let’s first look at the inner ecosystem and then the environment at large.

• Happiness Is Contagious: The truth is that we are social animals, and every human being is influenced to some extent by those around them. Emotions are contagious. A scientific study has suggested that happiness is contagious to the third degree. By being happy, you are actually raising the happiness levels of three other people, who may not even know why they’re feeling uplifted. We have the power to improve the emotional environment around us and to create ecosystems of well-being. The cost is zero and the benefits are immeasurable.

• Think Inconvenient Truth: Unless we look out for one another, the generations to come will be in dire straits. There are tangible things to do. At the personal level, leave somewhere better than you found it, and buy from companies that support your future. On the societal level, encourage corporations and governments to make decisions that are good for the long term and for the generations to come.

In the words of Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Jigme Y. Thinley, “Sustainable development means survival. It is about how we, as a species, must live within the bounds of what nature can provide. Sustainable development is not a choice. It is an absolute necessity.” The good news is that it is not too late. Each and every person has the power to move toward greater well-being on all levels. You can make a difference in your own life and actually be the difference for someone else.

Brain Images Predict How Smart You Are

New research making the case for the predominant importance for intelligence of left-brain thinking…

While other regions of the brain make their own special contribution to cognitive processing, it is the left prefrontal cortex that helps coordinate these processes and maintain focus on the task at hand, in much the same way that the conductor of a symphony monitors and tweaks the real-time performance of an orchestra.

Nevertheless, we remain convinced by the arguments for the need to value and develop our right-brain thinking made by Ian McGilchrist in his brilliant book, The Master and his Emissary – The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World – see:

RSA Animate – The Divided Brain

Explore – The big thing’s that’s changed has been the external environment of what it means to teach in university

“The big thing that’s changed has been the external environment of what it means to teach in university. Universities used to be communities; they used to be places where intellectual life really happened. They were also places where avant-garde stuff was happening. And that’s – in England anyway – completely ground to a halt. Universities are largely sold as factories for production of increasingly uninteresting, depressed people wandering around complaining. There’s been a middle-management take-over of our education, and it’s depressing. So universities, like the university I was at – Essex, which was a radical, experimental, small university, but had a bad reputation but did some great stuff – have become a kind of pedestrian, provincial university run by bureaucrats. That was one of the reasons why I got out when I got out in 2004.”  Simon Critchley

Study: Kids’ Friends — Not Grades — Lead To Adult Well-Being

Stories of parents pushing kids to succeed in school above all else have been making headlines lately, but new research has found that social relationships are a much better predictor of adult well-being than a kid’s grades.posted about 23 hours ago

An obsession with academic success and college acceptance (at least in the media) has been giving way recently to an anxiety that a certain class of over-involved so-called helicopter parents”may be pushing their kids too hard. And now, new research shows that academic success may, indeed, not be the perfect preparation for a good life. One team looked at a group of New Zealanders over a period of more than thirty years, and what they found may offer a corrective to twenty-first century American achievement obsession…


Regardless of the length of their lives, children with trisomy 13 or trisomy 18 — a chromosomal abnormality that can cause shortened lifespans and severe disabilities — not only led happy lives, but enriched the lives of their families, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics July 23.

“Despite the fact that often these children live less than a year and they are disabled, families find they are happy children. They find joy in their children. They enrich the family, enrich the couple and the child’s life had meaning,” said study author Dr. Annie Janvier,

“Part of what we would like to do is expand the imagination of the providers — based upon the data that is available — to a range of possibilities for these children,” Benjamin Wilfond of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute at the University of Washington said.

The Secret Society of Happy People will celebrate the 13th Annual Happiness Happens Day on August 8th.

The day originally began to encourage people to talk more about happiness, says Society Founder Pamela Gail Johnson. “But we’re also realists,” she says, “and understand that life is a mixture of good and bad events and moments. Even on a day known for its overall unhappiness like Sept. 11, 2001, people still had babies, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, and fell in love. We don’t seek to suppress the bad news, but instead to keep it in a balanced perspective to our happy moments.”

Secret Society of Happy People.  Founded: August 1998.  The Secret Society of Happy People encourages the expression of happiness and discourages parade-raining. Parade-rainers are those people who don’t want to hear your happy news. And no, we don’t tell people to be happy if they aren’t or how to be happy.

Scientists in Britain have launched the first study of how dairy cows interact with each other, in the hope of finding ways of making them happier and more productive.

Happiness & Wellbeing At Work

Routes To Resilience

Happiness & Wellbeing At Work workshops for disabled artists that we are making in collaboration with Ardent Hare 

Be Happy, Creative AND Productive

crayons

Ardent Hare has partnered with BridgeBuilders with whom we’ve had a long standing and successful realtionship and secured funding to invest in a pool of Resilience Advocates to champion the message of the importance of well being to effectiveness and success for a wide variety of business and community audiences.

We will be staging the first seminar in London at Whitechapel Gallery on Monday 17th September exploring the link between the ‘harder edged’ side of self employment and survival with what we might think of as the ‘softer edged’ side of personal and professional happiness and wellbeing and how this affects productivity and creativity.

Ardent Hare has confimed the first of 2 FREE seminars exploring the link between the ‘harder edged’ side of self employment and survival with what we might think of as the ‘softer edged’ side of personal and professional happiness and wellbeing and how this affects productivity and creativity.

The first event will be staged on Monday 17th September, 1-5pm

at Whitechapel Gallery, Clore Creative Studio, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX

These Seminars will:

  • Provide a guide to achieve personal and professional happiness and wellbeing
  • Explain the steps towards successful self employment
  • Share insights into productivity and creativity
  • Connect like minded creative people

The day will offer networking opportunities with other artists, refreshments and an information pack.

Highly inspiring speakers including Mark Trezona from BridgeBuilders.

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL interpreters and a speech to text operator will be present. Information will be available in large print. Some travel bursaries may be available (book early to benefit from these).

To book your place please contact Suzanne Rose email: suzanne@ardenthare.org.uk

Advance booking required as limited places available.

Want To Find Happiness At Work? Focus!

A well-documented study conducted by two Harvard researchers who set out to measure happiness, shows that 47 percent of the time people think about something other than what they are doing, and that mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.  Even when they looked at more pleasant mind-wandering, they say it’s not as good as just being focused on what you’re doing.

 The key, as many philosophies and religious traditions have taught for centuries, is to first notice when you’re not “present” — like the conceptual artist who was worrying instead of listening to the question he was asked.

 Then make a conscious decision to “be there” for the here and now.

10 Steps To Happiness At Work

“The exact attributes of what you are looking for do not exist in any job,” says Srikumar Rao, the author of Happiness at Work, who taught “Creativity and Personal Mastery,” one of the most sought after courses at Columbia Business School.

He believes that the single biggest obstacle to workplace happiness is the belief that we are prisoners of circumstance, powerless before the things that happen to us. To change your job, he says, you must change the way you think about it. “We create our own experience,” he insists…

Happiness @ work: Change the story to change your life

First a blunt truth: There is no such thing as job security any more if it ever existed. Your only security is your ability to deliver recognisable value, which has two parts – understanding of processes and methodologies and the ability to relate to others.

The story you are telling yourself is that young managers, or at least this particular one, don’t like you, presumably because you are old, and that you could be fired. No wonder you are under a great deal of stress. What you probably do not see is that you create this busily by the nature of the story you tell yourself.

Instead, say something like – I have spent more than 20 years with my company and have a wealth of institutional memory and knowledge that will be invaluable to the company that has acquired mine. My job is to use the knowledge and skills I have to make sure that my managers’ energy is channeled and does not drive the train off the tracks…

Happiness@Work: Don’t Crib, Count Your Blessings

Here is what the author says in a posting in  The Economic Times

Right now you are focusing more on how much you dislike your dreary job than you are in doing it. Reverse this. Then consider your co-workers — how can you make their day better in some way? Consciously try to do this to one person each day. The more you give attention and help, the better YOU will feel.

The more you do so, the more others will want to be a part of your circle. First your boring job will become less boring and then downright rejuvenating and finally it will disappear by morphing into something that really turns you on.

In Pictures: 10 Steps To Happiness At Work

1) Avoid “good” and “bad” labels

2) Practice “extreme resilience”

3) Let go of grudges

4) Don’t waste time being jealous

5) Find passion in you, not in your job

6) Picture yourself 10 years ago and 10 years from now

7) Banish the “if/then” model of happiness

8) Invest in the process, not the outcome

9) Think about other people

10) Swap multitasking for mindfulness

Six Principles for Business Ethics

“Pass the New York Times Test”  The test is simple. “If you would not feel comfortable with everyone you know reading about what you are currently doing, don’t do it.” The contrary is also true: If you would be proud to make headlines, redouble your efforts.

“Be accurate: When I say something as if it is a fact, be sure that it is a fact.”   “I don’t have a problem with someone saying, “I’m not sure but my best guess is…  But I do have a problem with someone stating something as a fact when it is not a fact.”  Better to be uncertain than unreliable.

“Listen to the buzzing: It’s there for a reason.”  The buzzing we hear when we know that something is wrong but we can’t quite put our fingers on it. At work, this often happens when we get requests from superiors that aren’t illegal or even obviously immoral but that strike us as peculiar and ill-advised. Listen to the buzzing and be forthright when something is wrong.

“Maximise happiness, not wealth.”  “Measuring ourselves and others in terms of the amount of money they made and the positions they had reached is hazardous and dreary. Our goal in life is happiness, not richness”, a goal that is mindful of a wider variety of concerns — family, friends, health, peace of mind — than simply the size of one’s bank account.

 “Be as disciplined morally as I am financially”  Moral decision-making will always be open to dispute, but we should aim to ensure that whatever decisions we reach are the consequence of careful thinking.

“Continuously reevaluate my principles.”  Business ethics begins as a commitment, but strengthens by habit. At the same time, our experience at work can complicate and even change our moral convictions. By reevaluating our principles, we make them more relevant to the challenges we face. Our principles must live through us if business ethics is to be a way of life.

Struggling Through Change? Let ADKAR Help You

Changing involves learning, which takes up resources (mainly our time and energy). If we can’t see the benefits in changing, we will struggle to motivate ourselves to change. Even when we commit to the change, we can still struggle to see it through.

The ADKAR model addresses the people dimension of change management and sets five goals for successful implementation: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement

Internal Time: The Science of Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired

Debunking the social stigma around late risers, or what Einstein has to do with teens’ risk for smoking.

Inflight wellbeing companies emerge to give your weary mind and body a reprieve

Let’s face it – long-haul, economy-class travel can be brutal. Passengers suffer any number of indignities and exasperations in the back of the plane.

But some of the physical repercussions of lengthy flights – dehydration, dry eyes, leg pain and, if you’re like me, swollen feet – are a particular nuisance if you don’t have time to recuperate (or even shower!) before running straight into meetings upon landing.

It’s little wonder, then, why the inflight wellbeing market is starting to gain the attention of airlines. Below are four companies working to help make your mind and body feel better in-flight.

In Praise of Downtime

Americans work more hours than any other group in the Western world, but we’re not necessarily more productive. This has to change.

Making Friends at Work – Survey Says Majority of Canadians Have Close Relationships with their Colleagues

Parker says workplace friendships can be a good thing for a company’s overall business.

“There is no denying that workplace friendships can contribute to a positive workplace culture. It means increased productivity and creativity, heightened morale, enhanced personal performance and stronger team cohesiveness,” she explains. “Employers who encourage a positive and collaborative workplace will gain a competitive edge when it comes to recruting top talent.”

Happiness In Gender Equality Movement

In the early days of the second wave feminism, a feminist canard stated that “feminists need happiness like a fish needs a bicycle”. In Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan devoted the whole first chapter of her book to “the problem that has no name”, which is the widespread unhappiness of women, thus underlining women’s desire in something more than just a husband, children and a home.

 Now that equal opportunity and equal pay statutes apply, happiness has again eluded women. Indeed, women’s overall level of happiness in Western countries has dropped since 1972, both in comparison to where they were 40 years ago, and in comparison to men (Buckingham 2009). More than 1.3 million men and women have been surveyed in the US and other developed countries through six major studies of happiness, which all gave the same result: greater educational, political and employment opportunities have corresponded to decreases in life happiness for women, relative to men.

 If the above conjecture implies that financially independent women are not necessarily happy, the inverse must also hold true; financially dependent women are not necessarily unhappy. What then, are the non-quantifiable components of their happiness, given that happiness is not about economic prosperity only?

Happiness Secret: A Greened-Up Office

For a fresh weekday pick-me-up, add foliage to your work space. A study in the journal HortScience found that employees who worked in an office with plants were more satisfied with their jobs–and their co-workers and bosses–than those whose spaces were less green…

 New Economics Foundation launches guide on measuring wellbeing of beneficiaries

A new guide aims to help charities measure how their services improve their beneficiaries’ lives.

 Measuring Well-being: a guide for practitioners, from the think tank the New Economics Foundation, is intended to hlp them gauge their impact on wellbeing.

 NEF hopes that charities and voluntary groups will use it to gain a better understanding of their beneficiaries’ needs and assist in improving the design and delivery of projects, improve fundraising efforts and help direct services towards those most in need.

Life after university – 14 careers tips for arts graduates

A round up of all the best comments, insights and examples from our live chat last week – what next for arts graduates?

Covering letter tips: expert advice for graduates

A panel of career advisers on how graduates can ensure their covering letter survives an employer’s cursory glance and spells out why they are perfect for them…

Leadership and Happiness At Work

The HRZone Interview: Dr Cary Cooper on well-being at work

NB: To read this interview in full you will need to register for free with HRZone, but here is a long extract from it…

Dr Cary Cooper is professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School and author of more than 150 books on topics ranging from occupational stress and women at work to organisational psychology.   He is also a regular contributor to TV, radio and the press and, in 2001, was awarded a CBE for his contribution to occupational safety and health.

 Here he talks to HRZone about such issues as well-being, the need for a new breed of manager and the importance of engendering hope and pride in the workplace.

My theory is that we don’t select managers with high social and interpersonal skills, we select on task competence. When you study for an MBA, do you learn how to manage people? No.

We train them on knowledge of HR and of operational management, but don’t select on interpersonal skills. So if business schools aren’t doing it and we carry on hiring in the same way, then we will carry on getting the wrong people in.

In tough times, you need people with great social skills. We need a two-pronged attack: select with social skills as a significant feature of recruitment and, if they are already in a job, then train them – there are some people who are trainable and there are some who are not.

Bad managers can lead to high turnover and lower levels of job satisfaction. People could leave, physically or psychologically through presenteeism.

Leaders are people who set a vision. Managers build teams and work with people. Visionary people often have good interpersonal skills, but not all of them – look at all the things coming out about Steve Jobs.

Everyone thinks employee engagement is a magic bullet for all our problems, but it’s not. HR will say ‘our employee engagement has gone up from 75 to 76’ but cynically say that they don’t see any improvement in morale.

Engagement is great, but let’s make sure good work-life balance is there, we manage by praise and reward and make sure employees are clear about what is required of them in their jobs.

Wellbeing – having little stress and a lot of satisfaction and contentment – is down to how you’re managed, how you’re paid, whether you are trusted, valued and whether you have good relationships.

Things that take that away well-being are a bullying boss, an insecure job, long hours, lack of clarity about job role, lack of flexibility and poor work-life balance.

 Q Why is well-being such a big issue right now?

A lot of companies don’t like to talk about stress or be perceived as a stressful organisation so they talk about well-being. Well-being is about reducing stress and being positive and giving hope.

You need positive psychology – get rid of negatives and create positivity about hope, and make people feel good about where they are. Pride and hope are important.

The driver for well-being has been for organisations dealing with stress. Sickness numbers are dropping, but what we are dealing with instead is presenteeism. People are frightened of taking time off sick, but a good manager can see someone who’s not well.

A good manager with social skills will tell someone to go home or ask the worker who’s been off sick a lot if there is something bothering them. Instead they think that someone turning up like that is good because it shows commitment.

Some HR people are frightened of doing that and finding negatives and worried about being seen as responsible for those negatives.  I think HR needs to do four things:

 + Fight for flexibility for everyone, not just those people with kids

+ Recruit people on their social skills

+ Audit well-being/stress in companies and then bring employees together to solve the problem. You might get someone from outside to do the audit but it’s important to get employees to decide what to do. You wouldn’t want to walk into your GP’s surgery and find they’ve already written you a prescription before you open your mouth. So you need to find out what’s wrong and do it in an anonymous way

+ The biggest thing we can do for the UK is get women in senior operational management jobs, not on the board, because you need to get senior and middle managers who are going to move into those jobs. Women have higher EQs generally so, in manager roles, have more natural social skills.

We should forget the traditional work pyramid and look at it as a square: If you’re a teacher, why shouldn’t you get paid as much as the head? Why shouldn’t a good chief engineer earn as much as a CEO?

Using data to direct employee wellbeing initiatives

It is becoming increasingly popular for organisations to make significant investments in the health and wellbeing of their staff. But how can employers measure exactly what they are getting for their money?

Astute employers and HR teams in large organisations are rapidly realising that the state of their employees’ wellbeing has a direct impact on performance and productivity in the workplace.

Indeed, studies (Mills et al, 2006/7) have proven this link and highlighted the opportunity for returns in productivity that far outweigh the investment required in health and wellbeing solutions. The big-ticket health issues, such as stress and lack of sleep, are proving to be productivity killers in many organisations. Businesses are becoming aware that a good degree of nurturing people into ruder health and, equally as important, a more positive state of mind about their health, can pay dividends for a brand’s reputation and its bottom line.

Collecting, analysing and acting upon data are critical elements to any successful organisational change and employee health and wellbeing is no exception. It is not, as often is believed, hard to measure and manage.

On the contrary, it is at the heart of making successful and measured improvements, whether that is on a one-to-one personal level for individual employees or in terms of driving the big changes within your organisation’s culture.

Data is important before you begin a wellbeing programme, throughout the early stages and remains so through the course of your organisation’s life.

Once you’re gripped by health and wellbeing data as a source of insight into performance, neither you nor many of your employees will want to let go.

Leadership and Followership

The people who turn out to be the best leaders are those who have previously been the best followers.” —Alexander Haslam

The leader needs to be multifaceted and emphasize different facets at different times. Those who fail to do that have a limited shelf life.” —Stephen D. Reicher

When we think about leadership, we tend to focus almost entirely on the leader. Yet without followers, there is no leader. Leadership is participatory: leaders and followers exist in a mutually beneficial relationship where each adds to the effectiveness of the other.

Key to this process is listening, because leadership is as much about listening as it is about talking, or perhaps more so…

Servant Leadership: Helping People Come Alive

In his book Drive, best-selling author Dan Pink talks about the evolution in our understanding of what really motivates people, especially in our professional lives. According to Pink, the latest behavioral science research points to three key drivers: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Another way to frame this is empowerment, perfectibility, and purpose, and servant leaders endeavor to create a culture that fosters each of these three intrinsic motivations…

Arts organisations need to engage their own staff as well as their audiences

Give everyone the same message at the same time and never say nothing, says Nick Loveland of Town Hall & Symphony Hall, and these ideas would work for any organisation.  For example…

Give your team a voice

That’s exactly what we did. We created a staff forum called VOICE (Views, Opinions, Ideas, Comments, Expectations), chaired by a senior manager but made up from elected people right across the business. It meets four times a year and discusses everything from feedback on our new appraisal scheme, to the date of the next Christmas party!

Staff are encouraged to post agenda items in bespoke mailboxes around the building (called VOICE boxes – get it?) and everything raised is discussed and fed back, both up and down the communication channels. VOICE has been going for four years now – it’s made a real difference to the way in which people feel their views are being heard.

I Want it Yesterday: The Dangers of the Business World’s Obsessive Focus on the Short Term

We are a society consistently in search of a quick fix—from diets to energy, we want the quick and easy solution, and we want it today, to hell with what tomorrow brings.

Research conducted by Andrew Haldane and Richard Davies of the Bank of England and PriceWaterhouseCoopers on “short-termism” in the investment arena provided results that most of us would find shocking.  They found that the majority of FTSE-100 and 250 executives (those running the largest companies in the world) would choose an investment with a low return option if they could get it sooner.

When you extend this logic out over a longer time period, the result is that investments, or projects with long-term payback beyond the 30- to 35-year time frame, are treated as having no value at all!

It’s time to recalibrate our lens to see the value in the long-term, and not be blinded by a myopic focus on only the here and now.

The Ten Most Influential Women in Technology

Marissa Mayer’s appointment as CEO of Yahoo! was an exciting development for her legion of fans — both male and female. It was also an undeniable cause for celebration among those who would like to see more women in positions of power, not only in Silicon Valley, but throughout corporate America. In 2012, it’s hard to believe that only 19 companies out of the Fortune 500 are led by women. The tech industry has made somewhat more progress than other sectors — at least at the very highest levels — as the accomplished and inspiring women on this list demonstrate.

One hopes for a day not too far away when the appointment of a woman — yes, even an expectant mother — as CEO of a major American company is noteworthy not for gender, but for the executive’s experience, accomplishments and track record of achievement. Hopefully one day soon lists like this one will no longer be necessary. But until then here is a collection of the most influential women in technology, led off by Mayer herself.

7 Things Successful Leaders Do Differently

Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the privilege of coaching, teaching, and talking to thousands of leaders from varied walks of life. What I’ve noticed is that while most are successful on some level, a handful of them have that something extra. Their path hasn’t always been easy, and they’ve encountered numerous challenges, but this select group of leaders thrives both personally and professionally. Here is what they do differently…

Personal Happiness & Wellbeing

“The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” — Pascal

This is a curious quote, and certainly counter to common wisdom, which tells us that connections and community are the road to bliss while solitude and silence lead to serial killing.

Of course, I’m being facetious. As an introvert, I’m all for staying quietly in one’s room, and I find solitude not only pleasant, but necessary. Staying quietly in my room is easy. But has that inoculated me from unhappiness? Of course not.

Granted, Pascal is not saying that solitude prevents unhappiness, only that the inability to be alone is the cause of unhappiness. And not just a cause, the sole cause.

That’s big talk.  I don’t buy it…

Take the Happiness Experiment

Take the entertaining video test above to get a taste of some of the counterintuitive findings (NB only Parts 1 and 2 are available)…

Happiness is a state of mind. We all know that. But when it comes to deciding whether another person is truly happy, our perceptions are colored by our own states of mind–in particular, by our  value judgments. A person can have all the mental characteristics of a happy person, but if he or she is living what we consider a “bad life,” we are far less likely to judge that they are happy. Surprisingly, the same moral evaluations do not seem to enter into our concept of unhappiness.

Don’t Know What To Do?  Try Kindness

The original meaning of kindness, according to Oxford Dictionary, is “kinship; near relationship; natural affection arising from this”? Acting kindly and showing affection as Caregivers and partners to those close to us can bring immediate and long-term positive results to stressful, difficult, traumatic situations.

Kindness helps improve any situation, even with those not so close to us.

Charlie Mafei: Finding Happiness

So many people make the mistake of saying, “my life sucks right now so I am going to get into a relationship to make it better.” My advice is that this never works. If you are feeling unhappy alone, bringing someone else into your unhappiness is not going to fix the problem. Instead, change the things in your life that are making you unhappy first! Once you have found happiness in your life, it will be so much easier to find someone else to invite into your life.

We all deserve “IT.” We all deserve happiness, love and success. If you do not have these things in your life, give it some thought and ponder, “What can I do to make my life happier?” For many of us, looking at our lives closely and asking ourselves this question is not an easy endeavor. But trust me. You have to do this before you can move on to happiness. Start the journey today by looking into yourself and find what makes you unhappy. Once you have determined what is making you unhappy take actions to fix it. If you need help, seek it. Some people turn to friends or family, some turn to therapy or religion while others may even stop into that fortune teller’s shop they pass all the time. Whatever it takes, do it! You deserve it!

Happiness is … ?

Well what is it anyway? A conference gets to the science of our smiles…

“Happiness is not just one thing,” says Lambert. “To pleasure, engagement with life, meaningful relationships and achievement, I would add health because health is really the foundation of the five pathways to happiness.”

In life, the glass is both half empty and half full. “On a happiness scale of 10, most people are a seven or eight,” says psychologist Jamie Gruman. “To focus exclusively on happiness would mean you are blinded to real life.”

Positive, not pop, psychology

“Positive psychology recognizes that you have to see the light and the dark,” says social psychologist Jamie Gruman, “whereas pop psychology (in the how-to-be happy guides) focuses on the glass being half full. That is not the valid scientific way.”

Too happy?

People who are optimistic bode better than those who are pessimistic, says Gruman. But you can be too optimistic. You don’t want a pilot flying into a tornado because he thinks he’ll be fine. You don’t want to wake up with a mole on your arm that has changed in size and ignore it. You want to go to a doctor to make sure it isn’t skin cancer.

 Happiness is?

 “Happiness is a myth. It was invented to make us buy nice things.” — Author Gregory David Roberts

 “Rules for happiness: Something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.” — Philosopher Immanuel Kant

 “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” — Spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi

 Here and now –  Happiness is also about living in the moment, adds Alberta psychologist Louise Lambert. “We create a lot of our distress when we are living in the past or projecting ourselves too far ahead to the future. Wherever your feet are is where your brain needs to be today.”

One Key to Happiness: Let Go of Some Long-Term Goals

I suggest something radical. I believe it’s time we let go of outcome-based goal setting and instead focus on the process of living the lives we want right now. Letting go of outcome-based goals can bring us freedom. We can start by:

1. Letting go of expectations.  Just in case life hasn’t already shown you otherwise, the world doesn’t necessarily owe you anything. Goals are great, and they can help us focus our efforts toward doing and being better. But you need to focus on having them remain goals and not turning them into expectations.

2. Letting go of outcomes.  Focusing on the process is a far better way to set goals.

3. Letting go of worry.  It’s a hard habit to break, but it doesn’t do us any good. Can you think of one single thing that got better because you worried about it? Obviously it’s different from sitting down and crafting an action plan to solve a problem. All worrying does is create an uncomfortable rut.

4. Letting go of measuring.  We’re competitive. We like to compare ourselves to other people. We love to race to see if we’re good enough to win. As I wrote earlier this year, we’re all striving for happiness. But we don’t have units of happy we can measure.

5. Letting go of mindless tracking.  A bit different from measuring or comparing yourself against others is letting go of tracking every penny in and out. The goal isn’t to track every penny but to know where your money goes.

Goals can be a great things. We just need to do a better job making sure they don’t turn into expectations that leave us disappointed and unhappy.

Index of Wellbeing: Our duty to be perpetually happy

As Bruckner explains in his principle work on the Cult of Happiness, Perpetual Euphoria: On The Duty to Be Happy, the idea that everyone must be in a constant state of happiness is a rather new one. With the final overthrow of Christian values by th 1968 generation, of which Bruckner was part of, a new moral order, one which said everyone must be happy, replaced the traditional Christian idea that happiness could only be achieved by salvation in the afterlife, while pursuit of earthly happiness was sinful. The Communist attitude, of self-sacrifice now, through manual labour in hope of the brighter red future of happiness is also gone.

That is not to endorse either Christian or Communist attitudes towards happiness, nor condemn the idea that people can be happy on earth in the here and now. What is problematic is the idea that everyone has some sort of duty to be happy or should be happy.

You Are Probably Wrong About You

Relying on our intuitions alone for self-knowledge is dangerous, because thanks to the nature of the adaptive unconscious, they are often no more accurate than a shot in the dark.

James Duncan Davidson, TED’s official photographer, on why we don’t like looking at photographs of ourselves.

Good social relationships in your youth might translate to happiness as an adult, while doing well in school seems to have little influence on well-being later in life, new research suggests…

Early Relationships, Not Brainpower, Key to Adult Happiness

Social connection is a more important route to adult well-being than academic ability…

We know very little about how aspects of childhood and adolescent development, such as academic and social-emotional function, affect adult well-being — defined here as a combination of a sense of coherence, positive coping strategies, social engagement and self-perceived strengths.

The researchers found, on the one hand, a strong pathway from child and adolescent social connectedness to adult well-being. This illustrates the enduring significance of positive social relationships over the lifespan to adulthood. On the other hand, the pathway from early language development, through adolescent academic achievement, to adult well-being was weak, which is in line with existing research showing a lack of association between socioeconomic prosperity and happiness.

The analyses also suggest that the social and academic pathways are not intimately related to one another, and may be parallel paths.

What Children Can Teach Us About Happiness

The How of Happiness. The Now of Happiness. The Tao of Happiness. Looking for Happiness. Map To Happiness. Finding Happiness. Authentic Happiness. True Happiness. The Happiness Hypothesis. The Happiness Plan. The Happiness Project. The Happiness Solution. The Happiness Diet. And my favourite, Eat Your Way To Happiness.

Books on happiness are almost as popular as ones about teenage vampires in love. Yet, for those of us with small children, it’s hard to find time to read an entire book (or rinse shampoo out of our hair). But here’s the good news: we’re surrounded by real-life examples of people who are successfully pursuing happiness each and every day.

Here’s why I think little kids are happiness experts… 14 Things Kids Know About Happiness

Does Having Kids Make You Less Happy?

Those worried about children and what they do to us point to studies indicating that children reduce parental happiness. In one, published in 2004, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and associates found that among 16 activities, taking care of children ranked above only housework, work and commuting in its enjoyableness for working women. Other studies concluded that marital quality declines significantly after a couple transitions to parenthood.

However, research that takes into account parents’ different circumstances indicates that parents who are able to spend more time taking care of their children “take much less of a happiness hit from having kids,” according to economist Betsey Stevenson.

We may be answering the wrong question. The question is not how much happiness children bring or take, but how good is the happiness? We need to return to a precept that social philosophers and religious texts have long extolled: that a good life is not one centered around squeezing as much pleasure out of life as possible.

What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About ‘Having It All’

Maybe it’s my Buddhist outlook, but I’m not consumed with worry and frenzy and despair like I’m “supposed” to be. I don’t enjoy that my 12-year-old son is still in diapers and sometimes purposely makes a mess in the bathroom. Or that he dumped his Thanksgiving dinner on my sister-in-law’s pregnant belly. Or that he screams in the parking lot of Whole Foods until people call the cops on us. On the other hand, he is my son, and he is what I have. And he has a nice smile.

When I look at friends and acquaintances, many with perfectly beautiful children and wonderful lives, and see how desperately unhappy or stressed they are about balancing work and family, I think to myself that the solution to many problems is deceptively obvious. We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, “Can we have it all?” — with “all” being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, “Do we have enough?”

Educating for Empathy

More and more educators are helping kids develop empathy—and a recent contest highlights some of the most inspiring projects…

“In terms of where we are culturally and as a changing world, empathy is more essential today than it has been in any point in history,” says Lennon Flowers, who is helping to run the initiative (her official title at Ashoka is “change manager”). “What are we educating kids for? I would suggest it’s probably not the ability to take tests for the rest of their lives, but rather the ability to work with others and collaborate effectively in the future.”

Hating Ms. Maisy: The Joy, Sorrow and Neurotic Rage of Reading to Your Children

For the past eight years, off and on, I’ve been reading picture books aloud to my children. You read the same book out loud every night for two years, and you wind up spending a lot of time thinking about it.

A lot. Of. Time. Arguably too much time.

Inevitably you start to develop strange, intense, sometimes unhealthy relationships with those picture books. Especially the ones that are in heavy rotation.

12 Frugal Ways to End a Bad Day on a Good Note

Although I’m all for indulging in activities to boost your mood, retail therapy is definitely a pricey way to do it. And it might make you feel worse in the long run if your shopping expedition makes a dent in your bank account. Here are some wallet-friendly ways to turn around a bad day…

Drew Ramsey MD: Eat For Happiness: 5 Rules

Emerging research in the fields of neuroscience and nutrition show that people who eat a diet of modern processed foods have increased levels of depression, anxiety, mood swings, hyperactivity, and a wide variety of other mental and emotional problems. One study found that adolescents with low-quality junk food diets are 79 percent more likely to suffer from depression. Another found that diets high in trans fats found in processed foods raised the risk of depression by 42 percent among adults over the course of approximately six years. And a huge study of women’s diets by the Harvard School of Public health concluded that those whose diets contained the greatest number of healthy omega-3 fats (and the lowest levels of unhealthy omega-6s) were significantly less likely to suffer from depression.

As a physician, I know all too well that strict regimens of any kind are almost always doomed to failure and then often leave people feeling worse off than before. That’s why the best prescriptions are often those that are simple and easiest to follow. With that thought in mind, here are the five basic rules I give to patients, friends, and family who want to simplify their choices at mealtime and maximise their brain health.

1. Skip the processed foods.

Brain-healthy nutrients are found in whole foods such as seafood (vitamin B-12, omega-3 fats), leafy greens and lentils (folates and magnesium), whole grains and nuts (certain forms of vitamin E that protect brain fat), and tomatoes and sweet potatoes (top sources of lycopene and other carotenoids, fat soluble antioxidants that decrease inflammation). Once you start eating a plant-based diet of nutrient-dense, whole foods, your moods will level out, your blood sugar will stop spiking and crashing, and your thinking will get clearer.

2. Go organic.

Many insecticides and pesticides are neurotoxins, and although some claim the science isn’t settled about their health risks, remember that the same was said about cigarettes for decades before their dangers were officially recognized. Organic food usually costs a little more, so it’s smart to start by switching to organic apples, celery, peaches and other produce that normally rank highest in contaminants.

3. Don’t fear fats.

Trans fats still found in many packaged baked goods are among the unhealthiest substances around, which is another good reason to stay away from processed foods. But the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, which are found in whole foods like fish, butter, yogurt and full-fat milk, are great for your brain. One researcher calls them “nutritional armor.” Studies show that these two fats help protect your brain against mood disorders, while low levels of DHA have been associated with increased risk of suicide. And these fats don’t make you fat! In fact, foods with healthy fats help you feel satiated, so you end up eating less.

4. Mind your meat.

Meat is brain food. Along with other animal products like seafood, eggs and dairy, the right meat is a protein-rich source of omega-3 fats DHA and EPA and another fat, CLA, which is associated with fighting cancer and reducing levels of deadly abdominal fat. A plant-based diet is essential for brain health, but a diet completely free of animal products has its own problems. It forces one to take nutritional supplements, which are expensive and aren’t always absorbed sufficiently in the body. Not all meat is created equal, though. “Grass-fed” or “pasture-raised” beef and chicken have more beneficial nutrients in them and are free antibiotics and harmful hormones fed to factory farmed animals. Eggs that are “farm fresh” have higher nutritional value because they were laid by hens with a healthier natural diet.

5. Make friends with farmers.

Shopping at your local farmers market can give you added motivation to stay away from a pre-packaged processed-food diet. Getting to know the people who grow your food also offers you the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what you’re eating. The goal is not to become a food snob, but to make that vital connection between your fork and your feelings and choose foods that support your emotional well-being and enhance your sense of vitality.

Good Mood Food: The Link Between Happiness And What You Eat

A USA TV show with the author of Mood Food – enjoy…

It turns out that what you put in your grocery basket could be affecting the way you feel. Dr. Drew Ramsey, co-author of “The Happiness Diet” visits The Couch to talk good mood food.

Explore – So you know, how pain relievers work, animated by the team at TED-Ed.

Percy Bysshe Shelley Frets About Information Overload … in 1821

…just as our complaints have their plus ça change quality, so do their corollaries. We end up finding ways to make the sea of information seem less sea-like. We find ways, essentially, to fool ourselves into a sense of sense-making. As controversial as Shelley’s ideas about poetry may have been at the time, they speak also to an enduring assumption: that the workings of human creativity — the clarity of curation, the filter of poetic understanding — are what will finally save us from ourselves.
Whether we are buoyed by the floods of information or drowned by them will depend on our ability to make wisdom out of knowledge, and knowledge out of data. For humans of the 21st century as much as the 16th, our intelligence is contingent on our ability — just as Shelley said — “to imagine that which we know.”

Guardian Books podcast: The pursuit of happiness

Is positive thinking the route to happiness? Oliver Burkeman and Jules Evans make the case for looking on the dark side, while the narrator of Joanna Kavenna’s latest novel takes off in search of a new way of living

Art, Performance and Sound

Unlimited – Southbank Centre

Unlimited at Southbank Centre: 30 August – 9 September, 2012

‘Unlimited celebrates disability, arts, culture and sport on an unprecedented scale and encourages disabled and deaf artists to push beyond their personal best alongside Paralympic athletes, by creating work which opens doors, changes minds, and inspires new collaborations.’ Arts Council England

 

88 Years of Olympic Games Logo Design

London 2012: Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony history is only a partial truth

Boyle gave us a tear-jerkingly optimistic sense of the inevitability of progress. Here was social history as taught to my generation and Danny Boyle’s, where we learned how – from Factory Act to Tolpuddle martyrs, from Chartists and Reform Act to the Butler Education Act – power was gradually wrenched from a small elite. See how the Voldemort tendency is still trounced by the people’s enduring affection for the collective good of the NHS and the BBC.

That’s the romantic history, the struggle retold in most of literature and art, where ragged-trousered heroes are pitted against villainous landed aristos and satanic mill owners…

Here’s the catch to the Boyle vision. Since the days of those confident history textbooks charting milestones of social advance, so much has gone into reverse. Imagining ourselves social democratic doesn’t easily make us so, when economic forces are stronger than the power of mere votes. Our postwar founding myth as social democrats is in danger of becoming as unreal as the prewar empire-building story. We can no longer count on the march of progress.

The 10 Craziest Moments of the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony

The Digital Age, As Imagined by Artists

Imagine a device that allows people to engage in cultural exchange through the distribution of videos and images. Users can create media libraries and share them via telecommunications technologies. Sound like the internet? Artist Stan VanDerBeek envisioned it in the 1950s. Comprised of seventy contributors whose work spans fifty years, the New Museum’s new exhibition Ghosts in the Machine is a “prehistory of the digital age,” in which artists use simple technologies to imagine our technological future.

Anais Nin on Paris vs New York, 1939

“The ivory tower of the artist may be the only stronghold left for human values, cultural treasures, man’s cult of beauty.”  Anais Nin

The Happy Post Project: Spreading Cheer Via Post-It Note

“What makes you happy?” For GOOD Maker’s “Stories for GOOD” finalist The Happy Post Project, this question acts as a springboard for all of its global movements, ranging from art displays at festivals, college campus visits, TEDx conferences, and man-on-the-street interviews.

The Happy Post Project has been to Japan to help collect and spread positive messages of hope and happiness to Tsunami victims. In the Bronx, organizers paired up with artist Dan Paluska as part of the “This Side of Paradise” installation, in which Happy Post filled an entire room with Post-Its and invited visitors to add their thoughts.

The project has visited cities across the United States and set up an installation in landmarks like Times Square and Chicago’s reflective Cloud Gate. The next project involves heading back to Chamarro’s roots in Colombia to in attempt to spread happiness to three communities affected by the nation’s ongoing civil conflict. The project has even received the stamp of approval from President Juan Manuel Santos.

Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei – A Short Documentary

Ai is unique among his contemporaries in the art world for his willingness to confront social issues not only through visual media but also through media commentary. As Klayman puts it, “Weiwei the artist had become as provocative with his keyboard, typing out a daily diatribe against local corruption and government abuses” on his blog. Ai claims his political involvement is “very personal.” “If you don’t speak out,” he says above, “if you don’t clear your mind, then who are you?” He has written editorials for English-language publications on why he withdrew his support from the Beijing Games and what he thought of last Friday’s opening ceremony in London (he liked it). And, of course, he’s become a bit of a star on Twitter, using it to relentlessly critique China’s deep economic divides and suppression of free speech.

But for all his notoriety as an activist and his well-known internet persona, Ai’s sculpture and photography speaks for itself. Unfortunately, due to his arrest and imprisonment by Chinese authorities in 2011, he was unable to attend the opening of Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads in LA, and he is still under constant surveillance and not permitted to leave the country. But, true to form, none of these setbacks have kept him from speaking out, about his politics and his art. In this short video, he discusses the significance of Zodiac Heads, his most recent monumental vision.

A portrait of India in The Indian Memory Project

Ordinary photographs of everyday people can tell us as much about the past as history books, Anusha Yadav, curator of The Indian Memory Project, tells Shiva Kumar Thekkepat

‘Happiness’ reigns in chalk art fest

The sidewalk chalk drawing said it simply: “You Can’t Stop My Happiness.”

Unusual Art: The Body as Canvas

Last weekend, Austria played host to the 15th Annual World Bodypainting Festival. Over 200 participants from 40 countries worldwide competed in categories ranging from ‘brush and sponge’ to ‘airbrush’ to ‘special effects.’

Ukulele Ladies of Ellen Wilkinson School: I will survive

Book review: Mrs Ali’s Road To Happiness

The road to happiness is never straight and Farahad Zama has got that right with his sequel to The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Set in Vizag, it follows the story of the extended Ali family, a quiet God-fearing people who find themselves in the eye of the storm when they break with convention.

A Treasured Event – A Unique Theatrical Event of Titanic Proportions

Tickets are now on sale for Treasured – a large scale, multimedia theatrical event which will be performed in Liverpool’s stunning Anglican Cathedral from 1 – 6 October 2012. Inspired by the story of the Titanic and its 2012 centenary, Treasured will feature cutting-edge film and light projection from Illuminos and jaw-dropping aerialist performances from Wired.

Escape Velocity

Places available for disabled children and young people at September workshops
As part of the build-up to Treasured, Aspire will be providing a series of creative workshops for disabled children and young children and their families. The two hour workshops, funded by BBC Children in Need, will be held at Liverpool Cathedral every Saturday in September. The workshops will be inspired byTreasured and will involve participants in a variety of creative and performing arts activites.

London’s Necropolis Station

Few cities can boast a railway line for the dead. The London Necropolis Railway station was constructed by the London Necropolis & National Mausoleum Company, specifically to serve their Brookwood Cemetery, 25 miles away in Woking, Surrey. The Company’s logo was, somewhat ghoulishly, a skull and crossbones.

Murder, Marple and Me at the Gilded Balloon Teviot Wee Room, Edinburgh at 3.15pm, until August 26 (not 13-20)

If you’re at Edinburgh Festival this month go see this – the supersonically talented Stella Duffy directed and Martyn Duffy has made the sound…

Preview: Murder, Marple and Me, Gilded Balloon Teviot Wee Room

Festival regular Janet Prince stars as Margaret Rutherford in the play

Festival regular Janet Prince stars as Margaret Rutherford in the play

IT was the outcome neither wanted. When Margaret Rutherford took on the challenge of playing Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple on the big screen, both women baulked at the prospect.

 Eventually they overcame a mutual dislike and distrust to form an unlikely bond, and it’s this relationship which forms the subject of a new play, directed by acclaimed crime writer Stella Duffy and starring Festival regular Janet Prince….

Happiness At Work ~ route map to edition 4

Happiness At Work ~ edition 4 (27 July 2012)

Here is guide to through this week’s collection of articles, news, reviews, ideas, pictures and sounds linked to Happiness & Wellbeing in our work and in our lives.  

The collection is published every Friday.
To view postings in the previous collections, go to Archives and choose 6 July for edition 1;  13 July for edition 2; and 20 July for edition 3.

We hope you find something here to delight, something you can use, something that confirms what you knew already, and something that improves your happiness.  At least…

Out To Sea

Photo by Jason Owen, nathanowenphotography

“When was it, in his lifetime, that people first spoke of attitudes that are either positive or negative?  

In his childhood, they were happy or sad, those people, depending on their characters.  No one, then, described a miserable neighbour as having  a negative attitude, and his limitlessly cheerful Aunt Rose, who looked on the bright side when there was no brightness visible, would have been mystified to hear that her attitudes to the problems she refused to acknowledge with more than a few slightly clouded moments of reflection was of the positive kind.”

from Paul Bailey’s novel: Chapman’s Odyssey (2011)

This Week’s Top Happiness Story

First ONS Annual Experimental Subjective Well-being Results 

The Report itself…

This report presents experimental estimates from the first annual Subjective Well-being Annual Population Survey (APS) dataset, April 2011 to March 2012. Overall estimates of people’s views about their own well-being are provided as well as estimates for: key demographic characteristics (such as age, sex, ethnic group), different geographic areas and countries within the UK, aspects which are considered important for measuring national well-being (such as personal relationships, health and work situation) These first annual estimates of subjective well-being are considered experimental statistics, published at an early stage to involve users in their development. ONS is collecting subjective well-being estimates to complement existing socio-economic indicators to allow a fuller statistical picture of the nation’s well-being.

The Story…

As part of the UK government’s attempts to develop an alternative measure of national performance to GDP, the Office for National Statistics has published its first tranche of detailed subjective data exploring how happiness and anxiety levels vary according to factors including sex and ethnic group.

Responses by 165,000 people in the annual population survey reveal the average rating of “life satisfaction” in Britain is 7.4 out of 10 and 80% of people gave a rating of seven or more when asked whether the things they did in their lives were “worthwhile.”

As might be expected, these statistics are being given different spins by different reporters.  Here are a range of these…

The Economist…

National Wellbeing: The Importance of Being Happy

ACCORDING to Bobby Kennedy, speaking in 1968, the problem with GDP is that it “measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” As he pointed out, GDP “counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armoured cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programmes which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.”

Forty-four years later, one group is trying to catch up—the British government. This morning, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the first provisional “national well-being report”, which attempts to measure the “subjective well-being of individuals, which is measured by finding out how people think and feel about their own lives.“ The idea started with David Cameron, who, back in the (possibly?) happier days of November 2010, denounced the “incomplete” GDP statistic, and called for a better measure of national happiness—dismissing the idea that it would be “wooly and impractical.”

So how has it turned out?

Surprisingly, black Britons are far less happy than other ethnic minorities or than white people. Londoners are also the grumpiest, least self-assured and most anxious of all—the capital comes out worse than all other regions (that may not be a surprise). And middle-aged people are also less happy than younger or older people—the mid-life crisis is not a myth, it seems.

All of which is interesting, but hardly ground-breaking. You don’t need an ONS database to know that if you make people healthier and give them work then they will be happier.

But an interesting thought is what will happen over time.

The Young Foundation

In A Recession, Does Wellbeing Matter?

In this period of economic downturn, measures that focus on ‘wellbeing’ and ‘happiness’ may appear out of sync with the national mood and may not resonate with an anxious public. With public sector cuts, changes in benefits and reduced public services, there will be many who suggest that material deprivation is perhaps a more acute concern than the nation’s happiness and wellbeing. We would assert that a better understanding of the nation’s wellbeing and resilience will be one of many aspects that will help us to weather the current financial conditions.

Nonetheless, measures of wellbeing are a way of capturing the bundle of experiences and circumstances that add up to what is generally described as life satisfaction. The use of objective and subjective data – understanding the way in which people describe their lives, as well as objective indicators, provides a more rounded view of what is social progress.

The Guardian…

Wellbeing index points way to bliss: live on a remote island, and don’t work

First annual results of Measuring National Wellbeing Programme show teenagers and pensioners have key to happiness…

Far more significant, however, appears to be the impact of work: not only not having it – which leads twice as many unemployed people to rate their satisfaction levels as low or very low as those in a job – but also what kind of work you do. The highest average life satisfaction was reported by those in professional occupations such as teaching, medicine or law and was lowest among “process, plant and machine operatives”.  Higher scores were given by groups of employees “with more responsibility and control over their work, as well as higher incomes”.

The Daily Mail…

Feeling down? Up sticks and move to the Shetlands! PM’s ‘well-being’ survey shows that’s where Brits are happiest

  • Scots and Northern Irish are happier than the English and the Welsh
  • People aged between 16 and 19 and 65 and 79 are the happiest people in Britain
  • Britons are most unhappy if they live in urban areas in South Wales, the West Midlands and London

Lord O’Donnell, the former Cabinet Secretary behind the survey, said the results showed it is ‘bliss’ to work outdoors.  He added that the findings proved it isn’t just money that matters.  ‘If you are working in forestry, or in agriculture, then you really are close to bliss,’ he said.

BBC News…

ONS well-being report reveals UK’s happiness ratings

People who are married, have jobs and own their own homes are the most likely to be satisfied with their lives, the first national well-being survey says…

Three quarters of people aged 16 and over in the UK rated their overall “life satisfaction” as seven or more, with women more likely to report higher levels of well-being and a sense that their life is “worthwhile” than men but also higher levels of anxiety.

The Scotsman…

Analysis: Serious business of government cannot afford to ignore happiness of its people

In the 19th century, when economics was first forming as a discipline, it was thought impossible to make reliable comparisons of happiness between people. So income was used as a proxy measure, and this way of thinking stuck.

However, as Robert Kennedy pointed out during his 1968 presidential campaign, economic measures are a very narrow guide to policy – they count spending that leads to “air pollution and cigarette advertising” but not “the health of our children or the quality of their education”.

Over the past 30 years, a wealth of scientific evidence has built up showing that we can now measure people’s overall happiness with life.

This sort of evidence has led to growing calls for wellbeing indicators to be used as headline measures of national progress, to help judge the success of overall government policy.

 This Sky News report comes with an interview with a very smug man ridiculing these measurements as meaningless, and suggesting that our crime, divorce and employment statistics already tell us everything we need to know about people’s wellbeing.  If you say so Edward Skidelsky…

Well-being Report: UK’s Happiness Revealed

The results of the first “happiness index” reveal that age, sex and ethnic background impact peoples’ satisfaction across the UK.

The director of the Measuring National Well-Being Programme, Glenn Everett, said: “By examining and analysing both objective statistics as well as subjective information, a more complete picture of national well-being can be formed.

“Understanding people’s views of well-being is an important addition to existing Official Statistics and has potential uses in the policy making process and to aid other decision making.”

Wales Online…

Wales’ happiest place to live is Anglesey – as William and Kate can testify

People in Torfaen were the least happy with their lives, with nearly a third giving a low score for their levels of satisfaction with live and a quarter not feeling the things they do were worthwhile.

Councillor Bob Wellington, leader of Torfaen Council, said: “It’s no surprise to see that those areas hit hardest by the decline of industry in the 80s are at the lower end of this index and, of course, the associated social issues have been made worse by the ongoing recession.”

“As a council we’ve got an important role to play in protecting and supporting our most vulnerable people, particularly during the current economic situation. We will continue working with our public sector partners in police and health to help make Torfaen a safe, prosperous, sustainable place where everyone has the opportunity to be the best they can be.”

and The Rutland Times…

Rutland is the happiest place to live in England says Office of National Statistics

NB Orkney and Shetland are the happiest places to live in the UK.  Or so say these statistics..

Revealed: The Happiest Place In The UK

The top five was made up of:

  1. Eilean Siar, Orkney & Shetland
  2. Rutland
  3. Anglesey
  4. Wiltshire
  5. West Berkshire

The bottom five, meanwhile was:

  1. North Ayrshire
  2. Blaenau Gwent
  3. Swansea
  4. County Durham
  5. Blackpool

 

Bright Blue Blog – Contributors – Richard Layard

Values and Action For Happiness

Richard Layard, Friday 20th July 2012

What is needed is one single principle which can guide and inspire us in all that we do. In a secular age that principle should be “Produce as much happiness in the world as you can, and as little misery”. That is the great Enlightenment idea that brought Europe out of the Middle Ages and needs to be at the centre of our culture for the 21st century. It should guide us personally in the decisions we make about our families and our work. And it should guide our politics. The whole debate about specific values and specific policies should be conducted with reference to that objective.

Can Happiness Be Measured?

Can we measure wellbeing scientifically?

Economist Richard Layard, supporter of the new national happiness index, believes we can; philosopher Julian Baggini is having none of it…

Richard Layard: Unless people have the feeling they are making their own way through life, they can’t be happy. This is not a formula for a totalitarian system, which we know empirically produces the most miserable societies

Julian Baggini: You could only have an international index if it were constructed around one specific idea. That is the fundamental danger of this. It is not credible that there could be a single understanding of wellbeing that all people at all times would settle on…the moment you try to create this single wellbeing index, you’re trying to nail down wellbeing to one conception, and I think that is in a way totalitarian.

David Cameron: The Next Age of Government TedTalk

Here is David Cameron in 2010, quoting Bobby Kennedy with some passion, and setting out his intentions to begin measuring Gross National Wellbeing in the UK…

More Happiness & Wellbeing News and Stories

Depression And Heart Disease On Global Health Agenda

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) compiled a list of the 10 leading causes of global disease, comparing 2004 with predictions for 2030, it came up with some surprising results.

In 2004, lower respiratory infections and diarrhoeal disease were the world’s No 1 and No 2 causes of ill health and premature death. But by 2030, depressive disorders and heart disease are forecast to replace them at the top of the global morbidity and mortality table.

By 2030, Depressive Disorders And Heart Disease Are Forecast To Be At The Top Of The Global Morbidity And Mortality Table

In many countries, job cuts have left fewer people in work. Those who remain are having to cope with almost unmanageable workloads, increased job insecurity, and longer hours. Their managers are often under increasing pressure, too, leading to more abrasive and aggressive management styles. This, in turn, leads to greater stress for workers.

But we shouldn’t despair. There are solutions to these workplace issues, such as training managers to improve their social and interpersonal skills, or using technology to create more flexible working arrangements. We can learn to work smarter, not longer, and create “engagement cultures” where employees and managers work together more collaboratively.

James Meadway – The Worsening Recession Reveals Chronic Weakness

Breaking the decline starts with ending austerity. But it has also to include a fundamental effort to improve energy efficiency, and the provision of sustainable, decent work. That would mean a plan to transform the economy – shrinking finance, investing in green infrastructure, creating jobs.

Damning Verdict on City: ‘No Longer Fit For Purpose’

A high-level government review into the City of London has concluded that it is riven by short-termism and staffed by too many people earning too much money.

A report commissioned by business secretary Vince Cable was made public this morning and finds a financial sector that is no longer fit for purpose.

In particular, Mr Kay says that regulation needs an overhaul and that traders seeking short-term profits are not acting in the wider interests of the public and should be marginalised.

Is it possible to combine the words love and business in the same sentence? I ask this question because of the self-censorship that is prevalent in the corporate world. While business is made up of human beings, its mechanised approach has turned many of us into human doings. For far too long employees have been expected to leave large parts of themselves at home before they head off for the office or factory.

The lexicon of the corporate world has been dominated by the words of war and scarcity; battling for market share, hostile takeovers, invading new territories and the like. That loud and crude battle cry has largely shut out the quieter voice of community and collaboration and, dare I say it, love.

I know of many management consultants and sustainability professionals who bring spirituality into their work but do it under a cloak of business speak for fear they will be ridiculed and ostracised.

As companies recognise their connection to society goes deeper than the impacts of their share price movements, the time has come to tear down this particular defensive wall that many businesses have built around themselves. All the signs, from the collapse of financial markets to the Occupy Wall Street movement, are highlighting the need to return to core values and a better way of doing business.

Stressed parents, Depressed Kids

Children today are more depressed than they were at the height of the Great Depression, researchers say, and second-hand stress is a major culprit.

Too much visual stimulation from devices such as television, computers and video games are partly to blame, Dr Shanker says. But high parental stress from factors including economic crisis, marital breakdown and urban living are significantly affecting a child’s ability to self-regulate.

“Self-regulation is the ability to manage your own energy states, emotions, behaviours and attention, in ways that are socially acceptable and help achieve positive goals, such as maintaining good relationships, learning and maintaining wellbeing,” he says.

“The solutions are real easy, the solutions themselves are not rocket science. Get your kid to bed, have your kid eat properly,” he says.

He also says some activities can help children to “top up the gas” when they are depleted of energy.  Sports, music, yoga and non-competitive Tae-Kwon-do all play an incredible role at helping kids regulate themselves.

Personal Happiness and Wellbeing

Defining wellbeing is not straightforward – not least because  the word mutates a lot around the context in which bis being used, for instance, in health terms there will be emphases on diet, exercise, and mental health; whereas in a work context the focus will be more on confidence, autonomy, sense of meaning or purpose, contribution and accomplishment, high quality relationships, feeling respected and recognised, and continuous learning and growth: a feeling of being able to achieve our full potential.

Our baseline framework continues to be Martin Seligman’s Flourishing framework: Positive Emotion + Engagement + Meaning + Accomplishment + Relationships

What Is Wellbeing?

This article provides a helpful enough explanation of wellbeing to help get a sense of what it means…

 The term wellbeing is very popular. If you type the word wellbeing or well-being in Google then a multitude of pages will be displayed. However, it is not easy to define the term wellbeing. Wellbeing is not the absence of illness.

Wellbeing is not simply maintenance and survival; it also includes growth and fulfillment (the actualization of potential). A wellbeing person has good physical, psychological and social wellbeing. Such people has sound health, more energy, feels satisfied, spreadhappiness and command respect from others.

Attributes of wellbeing: the various attributes of wellbeing are highly correlated.
1. Understanding others’ difficulties and situations ( empathy)
2. Honesty and reliability in behavior ( ethical conduct)
3. Seeing positive features in others and being positive ( positive thinking)
4. Taking cognizance of realities of life and dealing with them accordingly( realistic orientation)
5. Having confidence in oneself ( self-respect)
6. Taking care of what one says or does ( self-discipline)

Not All Happiness is the Same

…it seems that we experience two different kinds of happiness. The calm type of happiness is related to a focus on the present moment, and is most common in older adults. The excited type of happiness is related to a focus on the future and is most common in younger adults.

Although we are unaware of it, these types of happiness also affect our preferences. We seem to like products that will maintain the type of happiness we are experiencing right now. So, if we are experiencing calm happiness, we select calm products. If we are experiencing excited happiness, we select exciting products.

Happiness: The Female Perspective

As a woman, my subjectively female theory is that women are no less happy now than past generations were. I have interviewed over 100 women for articles and for books. They ranged in age from those in their 20’s to those in their 60’s, and they were from all walks of life and educational levels. Not being happy had no age, educational or social limit. The pursuit of happiness is an ongoing activity.

Does Sunshine Make Us Happier?

As much of Britain basks in longed-for sunshine one senses that, despite all the economic gloom, our national spirits have been lifted. We instinctively believe that warm weather makes us happier. But is it true?

Yesterday’s well-being statistics suggested the opposite. The happiest region of the whole UK is the most northerly – Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. Some islands see only around 1,000 hours of sunshine a year compared to a UK average of 1,340 hours.

Science is still trying to make sense of what is going on. The link between cold, dark climates and depression seems so plausible and yet Icelanders exhibit remarkably low levels of SAD. Some suggest this might be down to a genetic factor (Canadians of Icelandic origin also appear to have lower levels of SAD), while others think they may be protected by eating lots of fish, a diet high in Vitamin D.

The British public, it seems, remains largely committed to the view that if it lived in a warm, sunny environment instead of enduring waves of Atlantic cloud and rain, everyone would be a lot happier. For proof, people confidently assert that suicide rates are higher in countries straddling the Arctic Circle.

But proportionately, far more people kill themselves in the warmth of South Korea than in the ice of Scandinavia. Finland, which has the highest suicide rate of the Nordic nations, has a similar level to France and Belgium.

Probably not then.  Still feels like it does though.

Faster. Higher. Stronger – How will the Olympics affect you?

On the eve of the Olympics and Paralympics, Christian Jarrett dives into the psychology of competition

BBC Podcasts – FORUM – A World of Ideas

The secrets of Endurance. Rasmus Ankersen, Rachel Sussman, Marek Kukula. 21 July 2012

Sat, 21 Jul 12

Duration:
41 mins

Available:
24 days remaining

Why is it that so many top long distance runners are from Kenya? Is it genetics that leads to the high performance we can expect to see in the London Olympics? Or maybe the stamina of the world’s best athletes is above all about their mental attitude, the ability to deliver excellence, no matter what. Just some of the aspects of endurance we are exploring on the Forum this week with high-performance anthropologist Rasmus Ankersen. Also on the programme, award winning photographer Rachel Sussman takes us hunting for the longest living organisms on Earth. And endurance that dwarfs anything found on our planet: the mind boggling staying power of the stars in the sky. The UK’s Public Astronomer Marek Kukula is our cosmic guide.

Happy All The Time

New research offers hope for those seeking a durable boost in happiness…

The idea that a person can get happier and stay happier after a major life change has taken major hits in recent decades, with researchers finding that lottery winners are no happier than nonwinners after 18 months and the happiness boost that follows marriage fades, on average, in about two years.

But a new wave of research is suggesting that the picture is more complex, and rising above your long-term happiness level or “set point” may be possible, at least for some individuals.

“Long-term levels of happiness do change for some individuals,” Diener and his colleagues wrote. “The more intriguing question, then, is why happiness set points change for some individuals more than for others.”

The jury is still out on that one, but Sheldon’s study suggests that some of us may be better at savoring positive changes and that some changes may create a more durable happiness than others.

36 Scientific Facts About Happiness

A list satisfyingly worthwhile clicking through.

Project Compassion Stanford: Putting Compassion to Work: Google, Gratitude and Getting Canned

When facing adversity, we can either shut down or we can open up. Our immediate, defensive inclination is to close, to follow the seductive but narrowing pull of emotions such as anger or fear. Opening up is better for clear-headed decision-making and creative problem solving (so the data show). But it is difficult. It requires a good measure of self-compassion and a softness toward the situation and those involved.

 Are We Addicted to Gadgets or Indentured to Work?

Sound familiar: Mind racing at 4 a.m.? Guiltily realizing you’ve been only half-listening to your child for the past hour? Checking work email at a stoplight, at the dinner table, in bed? Dreading once-pleasant diversions, like dinner with friends, as just one more thing on your to-do list?

Guess what: It’s not you. These might seem like personal problems — and certainly, the pharmaceutical industry is happy to perpetuate that notion — but they’re really economic problems.

Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

 

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience — and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.  Reality is broken, says Jane McGonigal, and we need to make it work more like a game. Her work shows us how.

A traumatic event doesn’t doom us to suffer indefinitely. Instead, we can use it as a springboard to unleash our best qualities and lead happier lives.” (Jane McGonigal)

Positive Psychology Special Issue, March 2003

Although now eight years old – and that’s a long time in the science of happiness of wellbeing – this special edition of Psychology Today contains some really helpful background to the genesis of Positive Psychology in its first article, Positive Psychology: Fundamental Assumptions

FOR the last half century psychology has been largely consumed with a single topic only – mental illness – and it has done fairly well with it. Psychologists can now measure with some precision such formerly fuzzy concepts as depression and alcoholism. We now know a fair amount about how these troubles develop across the lifespan, and about their genetics, their biochemistry and their psychological causes. Best of all, we have learned how to relieve some of these disorders. But this progress has come at a high cost. Relieving the states that make life miserable has relegated building the states that make life worth living to a distant back seat.

plus the later article  Trauma and Personal Growth, is helpful reading around the idea and development of resilience, especially as it manifests as Post Traumatic Growth…

It has been found that between 30 and 90 per cent of people who experience some form of traumatic event report at least some positive changes following trauma, with the figure varying dependent on the type of event and many other factors.  These positive changes can underpin a whole new way of living that embraces the central tenets of positive psychology.  People may

  • change their life philosophy, learning to appreciate each day to the full (i.e. positive subjective experience) and renegotiating what really matters to them in the full realisation that their life is finite;
  • believe themselves to be wiser or act more altruistically in the service of others (i.e. positive individual characteristics) and have a greater sense of personal resilience and strength, perhaps coupled with more acceptance of their vulnerabilities and limitations;
  • dedicate their energies to social renewal or political activism (i.e. positive institutions and communities); or
  • report that their relationships are enhanced in some way, for example valuing their friends and family more (i.e. positive social relationships).

plus  some of the initial research that was happening in 2003 linking wellbeing with organisational life, leadership style and work loads in the article Positive Organisations

Many staff now seem to be granted greater autonomy over when they work and how they achieve their work goals. Many academics, for example, now primarily work at home.  Kanter (1997) and Handy (1995) argue that it is now commitment to common values that forms the glue that keeps the modern organisation together.

But at the same time increasing workloads plus an increase in measurement of the work being done has led to greater stress for many workers. It appears to be largely for this reason that job satisfaction measures have tended recently to go down rather than up.

Book Review:  What Doesn’t Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth

“Ordinary people have the power to live lives just as dramatic and driven as those of superheroes, overcoming traumas no less daunting.” So claims Dr. Joseph, who uses part of Nietzsche’s time-tested phrase “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” as part of the book’s title. His experience, research, and writing back up this proclamation and provide perspective and hope for everyone who has, is or will, experience a traumatic event(s) in their life. That includes about 75% of humanity who must face some form of trauma during their lifetime.

Building better philanthropy for a better society

The government supports charitable giving because it wants to encourage individuals to contribute to social wellbeing. With the dust settling on the coalition’s ill-fated attempt to cap personal tax relief on giving, now is an opportune moment to look, not only at ‘how we do good’, but whether we are doing it as well as we could.

The UK is one of the most generous nations in the world, but how far can our charitable impulse meet the gaps in social wellbeing arising from austerity measures? A new research report from the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy (CGAP) concludes that to increase the impact of philanthropy in our troubled times, we have to address its geographical, attitudinal, ethical and policy dimensions.

Where markets fail, philanthropy needs to go beyond mere charitable hand-outs to mobilise the skills and expertise of successful entrepreneurs behind struggling communities. It also needs to provide financial support and safety-nets to help innovative smaller-scale enterprises move beyond grant dependence to long-term sustainability.

Why Society Doesn’t Change: The System Justification Bias

“Society’s tendency is to maintain what has been. Rebellion is only an occasional reaction to suffering in human history: we have infinitely more instances of forbearance to exploitation, and submission to authority, than we have examples of revolt.” (Zinn, 1968)

Study Awe – Inspiring Experiences Change Our Perception of Time

In addition to confirming the expansion of time, the study shows that awe can ease impatience and actually make you more willing to volunteer time in the name of others. People also begin to prefer an actual experience over a material good. And just in case that wasn’t good enough, an awesome moment can increase your overall satisfaction and happiness in life.

TEDxExeter – Mike Dickson – What is enough?

How much is enough for you to live a happy and fruitful life?   How we are better to think about how we can maximise our lives rather than maximise our incomes.

Chela Davison: A Love Story – Coming To Terms With The Human Experience

If we spent one-third of the energy that we spend on chasing happiness on getting better at being in pain, our experience of being alive would dramatically expand. We’d need to chase less and run away from less. We’d be open to a wider range of experience and not slapping assessments on these experiences and what they mean for our worth in society. We’d actually be able to drop into deeper states of happiness and bliss when they arise because we’re not fending off the pain that is just around the corner or seeping through the cracks of our high state. We’d be able to more fully, authentically and intimately show up for the events of our lives because we wouldn’t be spending the majority of our energy and attention on trying to dodge, stuff down, sidestep or prevail over pain.

Happiness At Work

It’s Official: Work Makes People Happy, Says ONS

HR Magazine’s response of ONS National Survey of Wellbeing brings a comparison with…

separate analysis by the CIPD suggests the finding that work affects happiness, only holds true if people are managed well and engaged with their work.

The CIPD’s Employee Outlook survey includes the four subjective wellbeing questions asked by the Office for National Statistics. The survey of more than 2,000 employees found that employees who agree they trust their senior managers and feel they are consulted about important decisions have much higher levels of wellbeing than those that disagree.

Getting more people into work should boost national happiness – but there’s also a huge amount more happiness to be had if people who already have jobs can be managed better.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said:  “How people are managed on a day to day basis is central to their wellbeing beyond the workplace. Good managers spend time coaching and developing, providing high quality feedback, and rewarding and recognising good performance. Managers also need to have an interest in people as individuals and where possible provide flexibility and support if they are going through difficulties in their lives outside work.”

Explore – “Artists and salespeople are fundamentally…

Generation Sell – a provocative Creative Mornings talk by William Deresiewicz

This is an intelligent thoughtful critique of today’s creative entrepreneurial culture and a lament of the lack of any true avante garde in art or thought that it has brought with it.  An excellent lecture fully worth the investment of time it asks for: the talk itself is 28minutes, followed by the Q&A, also worth hearing.  Highly recommended listening…

 Artists and salespeople are fundamentally different people. It’s the nature of being an artist to be always consumed with doubt. That’s the nature that fuels your exploration. And it’s the nature of the salesperson to suppress all doubt and to speak in exclamation points. Now those functions have to exist in the same person.”

Here are two stories that bring the other side – the excitement and enthusiastic case for the new technology-driven entrepreneurialism…

TaskRabbit Looks to Expand Cities and Offer an API 

Founder Leah said TaskRabbit and similar companies are gaining in popularity as consumers change their views about ownership and sharing. “We are at the beginning of a change on the Web where more companies are popping up that allow people to share resources,” she said. “You see people swapping clothing, sharing cars and bicycles. TaskRabbit is allowing people to share their free time. We can empower people to share themselves.”

See the TedTalk video of Leah Busque talking about the changing habits of consumers, and urging all of us to take the leap with anything we feel passionate about.

Disruptions: Looking Beyond Silicon Valley’s Bubble

There are truly excited inventors, designers and programmers here, some of the brightest people in the United States, who are trying to build something that will fix a problem in the world. This is why I love working in Silicon Valley.

Luckily for people who live outside the bubble of Silicon Valley, there is a wonderful group of creators here who believe that everything is broken and that technology, creativity and guts can actually fix it.

Why Creators Need To Be professionals

So why is it so important for every aspiring creator to turn pro?

Because if you don’t, then you won’t have what it takes on those days – and trust me, there will be plenty of them – when you wonder why you’re doing this, and you’re tempted to give in to Resistance. Or to give up altogether.

Life in Lady Writer Heaven

It turns out that the outside world and all its demands aren’t just distractions from writing, as most writers tend to think, they are also buffers for our bruised psyches. They pull us away from our muse, to be sure, but they also protect us from our own demons. When there are phone companies to fight with, deadlines to meet, aging mothers to be nursed, eyebrows to wax—who has time to schedule in soul searching?

The good news is that when you face down the demons, the muse gets inspired by the fight. One morning, I woke up pickled in melancholy. Why am I so sad? I kept wondering as I wandered around the cottage. I’m supposed to be in lady writer heaven. I’m supposed to be productive as all hell. I’m supposed to be ecstatic, my fingers dancing across the keyboard…

As Woolf wrote about a woman’s experience of finally being alone: “All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others…it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.”

Increase Your Productivity and Happiness At Work

Whether you love your job or not, there are times of the work day that just aren’t as enjoyable as others. The typical work day is full of ups and downs, times of the day that fly by and others that you just can’t wait until they’re over with. When you’ve “hit the wall” and feel like you’re accomplishing nothing, or when you are just hating life at work, here are a few things that you can do to cheer yourself up and get back on track.

3 Simple Ways to Make People Happy at Work

This straightforward set of guidelines for improving people’s happiness at work suggest three key things to get, which we have given alternative headings to, drawing from Martin’s Seligman’s framework of five essentials for what he calls Flourishing: Engagement in what we are doing; a sense of Meaning beyond and unrelated to our own egos from what we are doing; and  high quality Relationships, feeling a part of strong supportive network, team or family.  The other two essentials are Positive Emotion, or the emotional feeling of happiness; and Accomplishment, the satisfaction and fulfilment of a job well done.

Here are Margaret Hefferman’s Top Three…

Learn these three strategies to make your employees happy, and extravagantly execute them. You’ll create a better business…

Professional growth (Engagement)
People want to stretch, to develop their natural talents, feel their life has a narrative and is going somewhere. When they feel that they are growing, they may be exhausted but they’re also inspired, energetic, and willing to take on a great deal. (That’s one reason why investing in people can deliver a higher return that investing in new technology.) Anyone who reports to you (and anyone who reports to them) should have a professional development plan. That will keep everybody engaged, busy, and–eventually–happy.

Strong community (Meaningful Work)
Everybody wants to be proud of where they work, to feel that they are investing the most precious thing they have – time – in something that matters.  Superficial social-responsibility projects won’t fill this gap for you. You need to create direct links between the success of the business and the community you serve. These need to involve the entire work force and should be active, public, visible, and long lasting. Many companies get their staff to choose the causes or charities they support. The more they’re engaged in these commitments, the more meaningful they will be to them–and your company community.

Fair treatment (Strong Relationships)
“Everybody here is somebody.” That’s how one call-center rep once explained to me why he loved the company where he worked. The job wasn’t thrilling, the pay wasn’t great, but every single person was treated with love and respect. Just walking through the door, he said, made you glad to come to work. When people got sick, co-workers worried. When someone was due to retire, she most likely came back to work part time, just for the camaraderie. Sooner or later, everyone in a company like this talks about it as being like “family.” The CEO knows everyone’s name–even the names of everyone’s kids and pets. This kind of fair–and kind–treatment also means startlingly low turnover rates, which also saves money. But it’s not really about the money.

These themes are extended and developed further by Psychologist Carol Ryff on wellbeing and aging

Six key components of well-being seem to capture what it means to function positively. One is positive self-regard, what I call “self-acceptance.” Another is having high-quality relationships with other people – “positive relationships with others.” Another is having a sense of direction in your life – “purpose in life.” Another component is feeling that you’re making the most of your talents and potential, utilizing your capacities, which I refer to as “personal growth.” Feeling you can make choices for yourself and your life even if they go against conventional wisdom is referred to as “autonomy.” The last one is managing the demands and opportunities in your environment in ways that meet your needs and capacities. We call that “environmental mastery.”

Embedded within these reflections is the idea that varieties of well-being around the world each are prone to their own forms of excess and inadequacy. However, until we look at well-being in multiple contexts, we may be blind to what these forms of excess are. The way to gain this understanding is to look at the experiences of, and ideals about, well-being around the world.

It’s like looking in a mirror. We see ourselves and our own views about what it means to be well by looking in a different cultural mirror. Maybe that helps us we see that what we do isn’t always the best. Maybe it needs to be slightly shifted this way or that.

That’s a bias I bring. I think learning about cultural differences enriches everybody.

Employee Satisfaction and Talent Acquisition: Why Wellbeing is a Must

In the current employment market, small and medium enterprise (SME) employers need to do everything possible to attract and retain the best staff. And while it’s true that SME organisations have traditionally scored well on important points such as employee satisfaction, there are always opportunities for gaining an edge over the competition and demonstrating how staff are valued.

Domestic violence has a significant, yet invisible, impact on the wellbeing of a large number of UK employees

Compared with 20 years ago, employers are now much more likely to be open to the view employee well-being is a mainstream business issue. Some are even becoming more comfortable with the notion that they have some role to play in supporting their staff to make and sustain lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking or eating more healthily. But there remains a dark corner of the wellbeing landscape where almost nobody goes, even though it affects a shockingly high proportion of the workforce.

I am referring to domestic violence, a topic that, for too many, remains a taboo; and I realise that just by raising it, I am exposing the uncomfortable boundary between an employee’s private business and an employer’s duty of care. So why is domestic violence a workforce wellbeing issue at all?

One in four women report being victims at some point in their lives and 20% of women at work report taking a period of absence as a direct consequence of domestic violence.

If your strategy is focused on healthy options in the canteen or subsidised gym membership, perhaps it is time to assess whether there are less obvious threats to employee wellbeing, to which you should also be giving priority…

UST Work & Well-being Study – Some initial findings

The central concept to the study’s links between well-being, performance and retention is a word coined by the project team: presenteeism.  They describe presenteeism and its connection to well-being:

We believe, and our initial evidence suggests, that your employees’ well-being, satisfaction with elements of jobs and satisfaction that their reasons for working are being met lead to higher performance through reduced presenteeism, heightened engagement and increased feelings of inclusion.
Presenteeism comes from the term “absenteeism” and refers to being at work physically, but unable to concentrate fully. This notion comes from the health and wellness literature, where it originally meant coming to work sick and therefore not performing well. We expanded the concept to consider lack of concentration due to a series of work-related and personal factors. Low well-being in any area of one’s life may cause presenteeism, which impacts performance.

In addition to presenteeism and engagement, the study also comprehensively measures well-being, satisfaction, performance and intention to quit. The researchers plan to follow up in six months to see whether those who intended to quit actually do.

The lowest levels of intention to quit were for those with high overall life well-being and high satisfaction that the job was meeting the employee’s purpose for working.

The next lowest levels of intention to quit were for anyone with high well-being, regardless of their levels of job-specific satisfaction.

Five Keys to Success as the rate of Change Accelerates

For hundreds of years, people have felt the world was changing faster and faster. You can find writing from two hundred years ago lamenting the rate of change that you would believe was written yesterday, yet with the perspective of history, there is no question that the rate of change today, in nearly any category, is greater than it has ever been before.

While all this change may seem daunting and cause you frustrations or stress, the reality is if we want to succeed, we must learn to do more than just “live with” or “deal with” change – we must learn to understand and master it.  The full-on task of learning to understand and master change is a much larger topic than can be addressed here, yet there are five key ideas that will help you when you apply them.

The Incubation Effect: How to Break Through a Mental Block

At a time when we always seem to be in a hurry, we need reminding that taking a break is a simple but effective tool for boosting creativity. To come up with creative solutions to problems, your chances are increased by incorporating breaks into your work-flow.

Creative? Introverted? Then You’re Probably Not Seen As A Leader

“Our results show that regardless of how open minded people are, when they feel motivated to reduce uncertainty either because they have an immediate goal of reducing uncertainty, or feel uncertain generally, this may bring negative associations with creativity to mind which result in lower evaluations of a creative idea. Our findings imply a deep irony. Prior research shows that uncertainty spurs the search for and generation of creative ideas… yet our findings reveal that uncertainty also makes us less able to recognize creativity, perhaps when we need it most.”

Happiness and Career… if you know what we mean… 

Adrienne Burke talking about the two types of working style identified by Howard Green concludes that happiness for all us depends on our sense of doing something that matters, whether we prefer ‘administrative’ style work or ‘entrepreneurial’ style work…
In the end, what makes people happy is probably in large part irrelevant to the question of entrepreneurship and working in small companies. More often, what we find is that people think about happiness independent of their vocation.  More relevant are questions like: What are your passions? What gets you excited? What will make you feel you have added value?

Do you just want to make a lot of money and then kick back? That works for some people, but it’s striking how many people we encounter who have done well in their careers still say they arelooking for something to do with their lives. They now have the financial freedom they chased, but it has not made them feel their lives are worthwhile. “Worthwhile” seems to come from doing something that feels like it is adding value, helping other people or somehow making the world a better place. That, at least, seems to be the common thread among the people we meet who are on fire, at any age. The mission can be almost anything, but in every case it is something.

Why Career Plans Are Dangerous

In hi s twice-weekly blog Action Trumps Everything he is suggesting that more of us are set to lose our jobs in the changing world, and identifies only three categories who can reasonably rely on having future work:
1) skilled trades people;
2) people who can tolerate how their jobs are going and
3) people who can afford to coast into the sunset

Perspectives – the new economics foundation magazine

Download the very first edition of the new nef Perspectives magazine…

Perspectives explores some of the latest insights into human behaviour and how they can help organisations make better decisions.

Most adults are producers as well as consumers. In fact we spend the majority of our waking hours working. And work is often a social activity: we usually produce alongside others, in teams. We started to gather perspectives on this line of inquiry with the premise that individuals at work are just as irrational as individuals at the shopping mall.

How do we form and instil habits within the organisations we work for? How does an organisation balance its instinct to survive while exploring new opportunities? Corporations are not engines that robotically maximise shareholder value; nor are charities machines that blindly deliver an altruistic purpose.  Both rely on the power of fallible minds to achieve their goals.

This edition of Perspectives stems from our ambition to better understand what makes organisations effective – and that means understanding the individuals that work in them.

Leadership

Overcome Leadership Challenges

As a leader how and what do you do to maintain resiliency in leadership?  By resiliency, I mean, recover speedily from problems and maintain elasticity, bend, stretch and not break during challenging situations.

All organizations encounter challenges, issues and difficulties everyday including financial shortfalls, downsizing, increased workloads, and succession issues.

These challenges force the organization to turn inward and look at itself and its effectiveness. It is a time to regroup and assess where the organization stands.

If the organization embeds and nurtures a culture based on mutual trust and where all members of the organization strive to be trustworthy and treat one another with respect and caring then you have a solid foundation to deal with the challenges and issues you face. But where do you begin? It begins with a focus on people and a focus on building and enhancing positive relationships.

Most peoples want to be part of the solution. They would like to have a sense that their ideas are heard, not necessarily accepted but considered with some action taken. They want to be part of the team, participating, engaging and solving some of the challenges.

Here are 6 steps to take when you face leadership challenges…

Leaders, Engage Then Train & Realise the Results

How Far Along Are You in These 3 Components?

  1. Empowered Learning Culture. Employee engagement starts and flourishes in a learning culture where all question, explore, are accountable, and learn from mistakes. When formal training occurs in this culture, the participants both apply it themselves and teach it to colleagues through the engagement that occurs each day. Leaders realize the results of the training as it spreads throughout the organization.
  2.  Engage for Accountability. If you mistakenly implement employee engagement primarily as rewards and recognition, you miss the true benefit — employees who are excited to be accountable. From this vantage point, any training the employees receive feeds back into the business in thorough application. Conversely, if as leaders you are delegating rather than engaging, you once again miss the true return on training — ownership to apply where appropriate.
  3.  Skin in the Game. Perhaps the most controversial component is offering advanced training to those who have shown personal initiative to learn some on their own. Of course there are training programs that you would want all employees to take. Yet for the advanced training that everyone hopes for, you must know how you will choose. Current job description has a been a default for years. Yet for leaders to truly realize company results of training, it makes sense to consider initiative and action as an indicator of developmental success.

Better Way to Coach Employees

Coaching is the process of preparing your employees to succeed.  Good coaches can create the mental resources, emotional resilience, business skills, and career development that employees need to achieve their goals.

Unfortunately, while coaching is a well-established part of the sports world, it’s a neglected art in the world of business. Much of the time, coaching is relegated to a five-minute conversation at the end of a yearly performance review.

There’s a better way to handle business coaching. Try this five-step process…

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” (Simon Sinek)


The Power of Conversational Leadership

Intimacy
Inclusion
Interactivity
Intentionality

Art, Performance and Sound

East London – Photo Gallery – Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine

East Side Story
The “other London”—gritty, gratified, but with a rising cool index—gets ready for its close-up as the venue of the Summer Olympics.

Neil Harbisson: I Lsten To Colour (TedTalk)

Artist Neil Harbisson was born completely color blind, but these days a device attached to his head turns color into audible frequencies. Instead of seeing a world in grayscale, Harbisson can hear a symphony of color — and yes, even listen to faces and paintings.

Natalie Kossar’s “(You’re My) Stereotype”

Something to smile through.  Enjoy…

Maira Kalman on Identity, Happiness, and Existence

“How are we so optimistic, so careful Not to trip and yet Do trip, and then GET up and say O.K.”

Mysteries of the Vernacular

This one is PANTS

Yoko Ono on NBC Nightly News: “I envisioned the world smiling together”

YOKO ONO: “If we all start to smile in the world something will happen. I think that it will be better for the world maybe.”

An ‘Unlikely Pilgrimage’ Toward Happiness

Hear and/or read an extract from Rachel Joyce’s new novel: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry 

Rachel Joyce’s novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fryis about a man who very suddenly, with no warning or planning, sets off on a pilgrimage from the very southernmost part of England to the very northernmost part…

The unlikely pilgrimage is also utterly spontaneous. Harold originally intends only to mail a letter to his friend, but he walks past the mailbox … and just keeps walking, north to Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Scottish border… and ‘this is a man who’s only ever walked to the car,” says the book’s author, Rachel Joyce, “And without his mobile phone, and wearing completely inappropriate shoes, and just with a light waterproof jacket,” Joyce says. “He sets off with no props. …

Tno Seghal Fills Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall With Storytellers

For the millions of visitors who are expected to pass through Tate Modern’s doors between Tuesday 24 July, when the work opens to the public, and 28 October, when it closes, the experience of being stopped and spoken to by a complete stranger may be uncomfortable. For Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, it is “the most complex, difficult and dangerous project we have ever put into this museum”.

According to Sehgal the work is about the relationship between the individual and the mass: “It is about what it means to belong to a group, which is also quite a personal question for me.”

Handheld Time Machines

Cities are full of noise and scuffle, and they don’t always reveal their history.

Armed with a fistful of maps from 1901 and a smartphone bristling with data-recording apps, one man tries to uncover a city’s secrets…

Mark Ware will produce a multi-channel soundscape installation that will be sited within the Cathedral’s Chapter House for three consecutive days during March 2013.  The sound installation will feature only sounds that have been in existence for 900 years (for example, the sounds of the sea).  The work will last ninety minutes and will be repeated throughout the day.  The aim will be to create a piece of work that encourages contemplation and relaxation.
Some more history from the archives via Open Culture, this Is Karl Jung being warm, relaxed and utterly charming…
To celebrate the birthday of Carl Gustav Jung, founder of analytic psychology and explorer of the collective unconscious, born on July 26, 1875 in the village of Kesswil, in the Thurgau canton of Switzerland…we present a fascinating 39-minute interview of Jung by John Freeman for the BBC program Face to Face. It was filmed at Jung’s home at Küsnacht, on the shore of Lake Zürich, and broadcast on October 22, 1959, when Jung was 84 years old. He speaks on a range of subjects, from his childhood and education to his association with Sigmund Freud and his views on death, religion and the future of the human race. At one point when Freeman asks Jung whether he believes in God, Jung seems to hesitate. “It’s difficult to answer,” he says. “I know. I don’t need to believe. I know.”

Stephen Covey has given us a lasting legacy of habits, principles, and cornerstone concepts, as well as a rich vocabulary to think about, express, and live our personal leadership.  The language that Covey gave us is all about choice and change, commitment, continuous learning, discipline, efficiency and effectiveness, happiness, integrity, freedom, listening, personal development, perspective, principles, time management, trust, spirit, values, and vision.

It’s a big deal.  It’s a lifetime of contribution.  His legend lives on through his legacy.

Here is a taste of that legacy and the wisdom that Stephen Covey has shared with the world  …

Why are conservatives happier than liberals?

The Big Happiness Story Last Week on all the North American sites is the study showing that conservatives are happier than liberals.

Actually the research shows that people with extreme political views tend to be happier than moderates, so the Occupy Wall Street people are happier than those of us who are more moderate in our criticisms of banks and capitalism.  This response to the story in blog post Are Conservatives Happier? brings out some of the more likely reasons why conservatives might be happier than liberals.  And discovers that the happiest man in America is

Alvin Wong. He is a 5-foot-10, 69-year-old, Chinese-American, Kosher-observing Jew, who’s married with children and lives in Honolulu. He runs his own health care management business and earns more than $120,000 a year.

The story has stayed live stateside this week.  In his post Mooney: Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals? Chris Mooney references social psychologist Arie Kruglanski’s research that found…

Conservatives are uncomfortable with ambiguity and prefer to seize on and hold fixed beliefs and views and offers this thoughtful response: The upshot of this research, to my mind, is that it provides a huge wake-up call to liberals who would dismiss conservatism, and their conservative brethren, without understanding this ideology’s appeal or what its adherents are getting out of it. Overall, the happiness research suggests that conservatism is giving something to people that liberalism is not — community, stability, certainty, and perhaps, in Jost’s words, an “emotional buffer” against all the unfairness in the world…It would be foolhardy to mistake its appeal.  The world is cruel and hard and perhaps, as predominantly atheists suspect, ultimately meaningless.  In this context, it appears, political conservatism is doing much more than political liberalism to get people through the day.

This story has been pretty much ignored in the UK press, despite its potential relevance for us here, and  Happiness – The Mortal Enemy; Part 1 Politics contributes this to the discussion:

Liberalism is an empirical philosophy: for liberals, trust, approval, and respect for the establishment must always be earned and can be taken away at any point. Conservatism is an instinctive philosophy: if a person is part of the group or establishment worth conserving, then a large degree of approval, respect, and trust must be given automatically. It is not a question of conservatives being authoritarian and liberals being meritocratic, it is a question conservatives tending towards belief, and liberals tending towards doubt.

Here’s what the original Harvard study said:

In three studies using nationally representative data from the United States and nine additional countries, we found that right-wing (vs. left-wing) orientation is indeed associated with greater subjective well-being and that the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality. In our third study, we found that increasing economic inequality (as measured by the Gini index) from 1974 to 2004 has exacerbated the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives, apparently because conservatives (more than liberals) possess an ideological buffer against the negative hedonic effects of economic inequality.

In Who’s Got the Lock on Happiness? you can read a selection of responses Letters to the Editor in The New York Times.

Meanwhile a new Obama story is just breaking – concerning this quote from a speech Obama gave this week…

“If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. … If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” — Barack Obama

The right-wing critique  Obama considers individual pursuit of happiness a mirage –  suggests that the President draws on a kind of conservative energy in his progressive intellectualism…

the idea of the “moral equivalent of war” as a means of inciting citizens to drop their personal priorities and rally around the state for a government-defined “cause larger than themselves.” 

Sara Ahmed’s The Promise of Happiness maintains that happiness is a promise that directs us toward certain life choices and away from others. Happiness is promised to those willing to live their lives in the right way, and makes us realise that happiness can bring with a duty to conform to the status quo. Part of Ahmed’s exploration draws from Mill on the Floss

Phillip loves Maggie and gives her books that rekindle her sense of interest and curiosity about the world.  He gives he gives her one book that she cannot finish as she reads in this book the injustice of happiness, which is given to some and not to others, those deemed worthy of love…

We could describe happiness as a convention, such that to deviate from the paths of happiness is to challenge convention.  The word convention comes from the verb “to convene” which is to gather, to assemble, or to meet up.  A convention is a point around which we gather.  to follow a convention is to follow in the right way. Feminism gives time and space to women’s desires that are not assembled around the reproduction of the family form…  The word feminism is thus saturated with unhappiness.  Feminists are [automatically] read as destroying something that is thought by others not only as being good but as the cause of happiness.  The feminist killjoy “spoils” the happiness of others because she refuses to convene, to assemble, or to meet up over happiness.

We might say exactly the same for liberals.

For the full research report see Why are conservatives happier than liberals?

Happiness At Work 3 ~ a route map to edition three

Here is guide to through week’s collection of articles, news, reviews, ideas, pictures and sounds linked to Happiness & Wellbeing in our work and in our lives.  

The collection is published every Friday.
To view postings in the previous collections, go to Archives and choose 6 July for edition one and 13 July for edition two.

We hope you find something here to delight, something you can use, something that confirms what you knew already, and something that improves your happiness.  At least…

The Tanks: Art in Action (Tate Modern)

Happiness At Work – edition 3

Our Top Story

The most important story we found is the publication of the Quality of Working Life 2012 report by the Chartered Institute of Management.  It tells a bad news story about how UK management has deteriorated into much more controlling and untrusting style and the damaging consequences this has for organisations and its people, especially in the public sector. See Quality of Working Life 2012 – people are less happy than in 2007 and need training and new support

The Tanks: Art in Action (Tate Modern)

The Story Making the Biggest Noise This Week

Why are conservatives happier than liberals?

The Big Story Last Week on all the North American sites is the study showing that conservatives are happier than liberals.

Right-wing (vs. left-wing) orientation is associated with greater subjective well-being and that the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality … increasing economic inequality from 1974 to 2004 has exacerbated the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives, apparently because conservatives (more than liberals) possess an ideological buffer against the negative hedonic effects of economic inequality.

This debate has yet to have an impact here in the UK, but this question is surely worth us asking.

Happiness & Wellbeing At Work

Talent Management – July 2012 – Does Happiness Really Drive Results? is a beautiful e-book and thoroughly worth reading…

Promoting happiness in the workplace is now a scientifically motivated practice that has proven benefits for productivity, profits and people…

Curtis Roosevelt: Austerity? Stimulus? Or Happiness? presents some more strong arguments for why policy makers must take happiness and wellbeing findings seriously.

See too Have Your HR and Leadership Practices Become irrelevant?

25 Qualities Of The Leader In A Happy, Profitable Workplace support the findings from the Quality of Work Life 2012 research starting with…

1) Believes in herself

and completing with…

23) Creates an environment where all in the organization can lead 

In Workplace Happiness: What’s the Secret? Ben Waber’s research reveals factors that affect happiness at work and can increase productivity by up to 25%:

having a tight-knit group that you can commiserate with is a critical, as is a having largish network with plenty of diversity and branching out to talk to people in groups you wouldn’t normally talk to.

In The Right Emotional landscape for High Employee Retention, Granvilled d’Souza draws on a variety of research to show ‘the happiest employees are the most productive and this happens when their bosses are candid, relaxed, trusting and are approachable,’ and concludes with this wonderful musical metaphor:

‘Work satisfaction and keeping people happy at work requires an environment that adds value, fosters encouragement and stresses on people development. This only serves as a constant reminder that each person starting from the top strums the right chord to resonate what the organization stands for.’

In How To Motivate Subordinates Professor Srikumar Rao, author of Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated and Successful – No Matter What  brings what he calls…

a somewhat contrarian view about ‘motivation’. I think that it is NOT the function of a manager to motivate subordinates. It is his – or her – function to find out what is de-motivating them and systematically get rid of these factors.

This is a clear practical straight forward and helpful piece, but language really matters…

has anyone ever been happy to be called a ‘subordinate?’

Volunteering Makes Happier Employees – see the full technicolour pictorially presentation of what this research is saying.

A new gallup poll reveals The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing

career + social + financial + physical +community wellbeing
Physiological -> Security -> Love & Belonging -> Self Esteem -> Self-actualisation
and this article provides a good Maslow history lesson (or a reminder for those who are already familiar with his model)

A happy mind is an open mind  is one of the elements of  The Science of Happiness  post How To Solve Problems By Doing Nothing …

Several studies have shown that positive emotions lead to greater internal awareness of our brain’s subtle signals whereas negative emotions cloud our thinking. The happiness you feel after a vacation presents a great opportunity to see problems from a fresh perspective.

Chris Dede’s Five Things I’ve Learned, Professor of Learning Technologies at Harvard, as well as being in fact four things, are not the usual list, but definitely worth a read…

  1. Leadership requires envisioning opportunities.
  2. Leadership requires displacing cherished misconceptions.
  3. Leadership requires inspiring others to act on faith.
  4. Leadership requires inspiring others to act on faith.

If Women Ran Hollywood…2012

Irresistible.

Understanding and Playing To Your Strengths

8 Secrets To Happiness (part 4) – Proactive Living concludes its survey with

Know Who Are and What You Love

and offers this link to a free online Personality Test based on Jung Briggs Myers typology

And for an alternative understanding of the different MBTI styles, check out 16 Fiction Characters’ Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Knowing and activating our top strengths and working preferences automatically makes us feel good – about ourselves and about what are able to do and contribute to the world.  Another excellent and free online questionnaire is the Via Me Character Strengths Profile

Personal Happiness

Stefan Sagmeister: 7 rules for making more happiness  TedTalk is a beguiling personal response to the happiness statistics and information…

Using simple, delightful illustrations, designer Stefan Sagmeister shares his latest thinking on happiness — both the conscious and unconscious kind. His seven rules for life and design happiness can (with some customizations) apply to everyone seeking more joy.

A feeling of energy is a key to feeling happy

When you feel energetic, you feel much better about yourself. On the other hand, when you feel exhausted, tasks that would ordinarily make you happy — like putting up holiday decorations, getting ready to go to a party, or planning a trip — make you feel overwhelmed and blue.

Read The Happiness Project Grethchen Rubin’s 7 Tips to Boost Your Energy Levels Fast. The 6th one is Talk to friends.

Happiness Boosts Heart Health  Reported by the Daily Mail as “Cheer up and save yourself a heart attack,” new research seems to show…

The quality of optimism they say is most robustly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events. Hedonic wellbeing (based on pleasure and enjoyment) has a stronger association with positive cardiovascular health than eudaimonic wellbeing (based on fulfilling one’s potential and wider social goals)’.

Want To Be Happy? Don’t Pursue Happiness Steve Maizie’s very readable summary – with a link to an e e cummings poem – of how to be happy using Emmanuel Kant’s teachings…

For a truly different account of happiness — one that takes the pursuit of happiness to be fundamentally misguided — we turn to Immanuel Kant, who might sound preachy to the modern ear, but his message is an important antidote to the apparent consensus that we should spend our lives aiming to make ourselves happy.

Maizie’s big think post comes complete with a link to an e.e.cumming poem: three poems

(While you and i have lips and voices which
are for kissing and to sing with
who cares if some oneeyed son of a bitch
invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

each dream nascitur, is not made . . .)
why then to Hell with that: the other; this,
since the thing perhaps is
to eat flowers and not to be afraid.

On Happiness Equations is a great review of the irresistibility, futility and worth of equations to try and measure happiness, and in particular the now famous happiness formula advanced by Positive Psychology supremo, Martin Seligman: H(appiness) = S(set point) + C(ircumstances) + V(oluntary actions), out of which Jeremy McCarthy concludes…

For me, all of these equations are useful.  They force us to use an analytical part of our brain to consider the forces at play between variables that are unquantifiable.   To the critics of these equations, I’d like to share the same advice that Conley gives to his readers . . . “try not to let the math distract you from the bigger message.”

Here is another Happiness Formulae our research has thrown up…

M = (B + S) x A  = BA + SA and therefore

BA = M – SA = M – 1

and B = M-I/A

In the latter case

M = (B-S) x A = BA – SA; therefore BA = M + SA = M + I and B = M+I 33

_____

A

Answers by the end of class please.

In Fame Not Key to Happiness  some words of wisdom about resilience from celebrity panelists to a school group in India include these from video jockey Juhi Pande

The idea is to give that best attempt because you never know when, what you consider success, shall come to you and you need to hang on till then. When you start working you don’t determine whether it will be appreciated by others or not, that comes later. But, no matter what happens you should not lose conviction or doubt yourself.”

Shut Your Face! 5 Things Women Should Not Say To Men.  No further explanation necessary.

Which Experience Is Best For You? Enjoyment of Experiences is Influenced By Life Priorities and Values research findings include not one but two arts experiences in the top five…

Using data from 142 adults who completed a values survey and an experiential preference survey, Beyond the Purchase was able to determine the top five most appealing activities:

1. A day trip/weekend vacation
2. A dining experience
3. Museums/galleries 
4. A concert 
5. Hiking

No Joke: 5 Guaranteed Ways to Increase Happiness.  We have no idea if these things will work but most of them look fun to try and all of them are small and immediate enough to take a chance with.

Art, Sound and Performance

The Tanks: Art in Action opened Tate Modern’s new performance art space this week including  Suzanne Lacey: Crystal Quilt long luxurious soundscape of women talking about being about life, living, love and relationships at an age when they are…

“not old – ripening…”

Tate Magic Ball is a fun app that you shake to get different selections from the Tate collection based on a complicated algorithm of where you are, weather conditions, time of day and ambient noise levels.

Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw’s  Peace Camp is only live for 3 days around coastal locations around the UK this weekend, but you can download and enjoy Mel Mercier’s 70minute love poetry soundscape from their website.

Graeme Miller’s new sound show On Air sounds exciting and fresh way to experience the city:  

a durational site-specific radio broadcast that compacts the elements of local radio into a simple poetic system. Graeme Miller will create a continuous commentary on the everyday life of Exhibition Road for nine days from 28 July to 6 August 2012.

This is part of the bigger Cultural Olympiad project On Exhibition Road

a place for Londoners and visitors alike to unwind and recharge during London 2012 with games from the vintage collection at the V&A or readings from ROAD STORIES, a compendium of specially commissioned short stories by well-known authors and music and exhibitions.

Art and the Pursuit of Happiness Further away Londoners, artists Balasbas and Sonio, the Pinoy sense of happiness is best captured in the everyday communal rituals of the streets, soundtracked by the charivari of gossip, intoxicated banter and laughter.In their shared humility and lack of any artistic pretense, both artists map out for us a path to unencumbered happiness in the virtues of contentment and simplicity in their Makati City exhibition.

And we couldn’t resist posting this story about A Shortcut To Happiness, a new Roger Hall play in touring New Zealand with our old acting colleagues Alison Quigan and Stuart Devinie.  Apparently…

“There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.”

UK weather has remained cold, wet and miserable this week, but in New York they’ve had a record-breaking heat wave – wish we were there – which inspired Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings post: A Vintage Love Letter to New Tork’s Heat Wave as the Ultimate Class Equaliser

When a heat wave left the whole city gasping and sweating, a powerful fellowship blunted the edge of the common misery, bridging the most insuperable linguistic barriers, or the most unclimbable social barricades, if only with a wink or a grimace.

Book Reading

Book Review: The Coming Jobs War  Although written very specifically about the USA, Jim Clifton’s conclusions based on a huge amount of Gallup statistics are worth at least looking at.  I have re-presented his findings here substituting ‘America’ with “the country’ – see if you think they have validity for where you are:

  1. The biggest problem facing the world is adequate jobs.
  2. Job creation can only be accomplished in cities.
  3. The three key sources of job creation are: the country’s top 100 cities, its top 100 universities, and its 10,000 local ‘tribal’ leaders.
  4. Entrepreneurship is more important than innovation.
  5. The country cannot outrun its healthcare costs.
  6. Because all public education results are local, local leaders need to lead their whole cities and all youth programs to war on the dropout rate, with the strategy of one city, one school, and one student at a time.
  7. The country must differentiate itself by doubling its number of engaged employees.
  8. Jobs occur when new customers appear.
  9. Every economy rides on the backs of small to medium sized businesses.
  10. The country needs to more than triple its exports in the next five years and increase them by 20 times in the next 30 years.

Or for more positive sustenance, see Book Review: Strengths Based Leadership that highlights Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope as the four crucial capabilities of good leaders.

Video

Enjoy Bill Plympton’s Animated Guides to Kissing and Making Love

Stephen R. Covey dies, author of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ was 79

Stephen Covey dis this week after a bicycle accident.  Covey’ was a unique, intensely human and special voice, and his ideas and techniques have long been a central vein of our work, especially in our Managing Multiple Priorities Win-Win Negotiating and Leadership Communications  training.

Here is remembered beautifully by his friend, innovation specialist and provocateur Tom Peters…

Remembering Stephen Covey

By Tom Peters
Monday, Jul 16, 2012

Let’s forget the content of his books. Or the gazillions of copies The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, or any of his others books for that matter, have sold around the world. Let’s forget his memorable seminars—and his business success. 

One simply cannot pay tribute to Stephen Covey without saying at the outset that he was a lovely human being. 

Stephen and I have both been figures in the world of “business thinking,” or some such. And in our world, the response to his death seems rather parallel to Tim Russert’s. All in the news industry agreed that Mr. Russert was a remarkable journalist whose body of work had been highly influential. But the heart of the matter was Tim Russert the person. Every tribute oozed warmth for an extraordinary human being. 

Professionally, the term “humanist” could have been invented to encapsulate Stephen’s work. He was a man of the world, and, though in my view an optimist, he was hardly naïve and knew humanity’s darker side. 

Nelson Mandela’s greatest weakness, he has said, may be that he expects the best of all those with whom he comes in contact, including his most intransigent enemies. While I’m not quite drawing a parallel between Covey and Mandela, I will say unequivocally that Stephen expected the best of all of us—and he provided us with straightforward tools and advice to help us get from here to a better there. 

As also in the case of Mr. Mandela, many with whom Stephen had direct or indirect contact surprised themselves as they marched forward with their own enhanced humanism, courtesy of his work and example. 

Let me resort, finally, to the vernacular: I just liked being around the guy. 

I am a pessimist by nature (some find that difficult to believe), and a little dose of Covey from time to time would boost my spirits enormously—and strengthen my commitment to one or another quixotic pursuits. Though we were hardly bosom buddies, I would occasionally get an absurdly generous note from Stephen recognizing this or that that I had done. I often joked with him that, with the passage of time, I was ripping him off more and more. That is, I increasingly underscored essential principals he had articulated clearly and to which I had often given short shrift.  

In short, I will miss Stephen. He stirred my better angels, as he did for millions of others in truly every corner of the world. 

His book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is high recommended reading.

Quality of Working Life 2012 – people are less happy at work than in 2007 and need training and new support

 

from ‘white man’s burden’ – an workshop exploring 21st leadership (info@bridgebuilders.co.uk)

This week’s Quality of Working Life 2012 report of the research taken in May this year into how UK people are at work provides a vivid snapshot of the human effects the years of economic difficulty, organisational change and uncertainty have brought – especially for people working in the public sector.

“The scale and impact of change over the last five years has been staggering as all of our key measures from the survey have deteriorated markedly since 2007. What is more worrying is that there seems to be no sign of economic conditions getting better – we are in for a worrying time if these trends persist into the future.” – Report author, Les Worrall FCMI, professor of strategic analysis in the faculty of business, environment and society at Coventry University.

Post-recession authoritarian management style depresses job satisfaction, finds CMI/Simplyhealth study

The dominance of negative management styles in UK workplaces is having a serious impact on managers’ job satisfaction, wellbeing and working relationships, according to the report comparing the mental and physical health of managers in 2012 with those in 2007 by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Simplyhealth.

CMI chief executive, Ann Francke, said: “It’s official: especially in a recession, authoritarian is out and empowering is in. It’s more than just words – if you’re a trusting manager and are good to your people you can reap big business rewards. If you’re not, you’re causing stress that is damaging the health of your people and the business.”

Stressed Workplaces Need to Control Wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is at risk under the increasing dominance of negative management styles.  The Quality of Working Life 2012 reported that compared with 2007, managers have been working longer hours, increasingly suffering from ill health and more likely to work despite sickness.  It showed negative management styles were prevailing; 45% reported bureaucratic methods; 33% reactive; and 30% authoritarian.

Management style was closely linked to job satisfaction. Where the prevailing management style was seen as authoritarian, only 28% of respondents were satisfied with their job, compared to 67% of organisations where it wasn’t.

However this Report also states…

In spite of this, there are some hopeful signs that UK managers are ready to build organisations that are ready for the challenges of the next 10 years. There are examples of good organisations out there. These are characterised by more people orientated management styles and behaviours, by high levels of reciprocal trust, by openness, by empowerment and by more consensual approaches to decision making.

What stands out from this research is the crucial need for organisations to find some ways to provide and resource space and time for people to get learning, refection, and training.  The more difficult the things we are facing, the more critically we need the time and space to think creatively through the fullest spectrum of perspectives to find the best ways to progress forward, and new techniques and approaches to increase our repertoire of responses for the new demands and situations facing us…

Training boosts the effectiveness of policies – evidence shows that it is insufficient just to have health policies in place without also having training policies, communications policies and having set clear accountability for the delivery of policy.

 

While reports about this research, such as are rightly highlighting the high incidence and damages of bad management practice it reveals, too, the conditions in which managers are currently working in…

After analysing the 2012 data we can identify a number of themes that pose serious questions about how UK organisations are being managed:

  • Managers are being put under more pressure as cost cutting, redundancy and deteriorating terms and conditions take their physical and psychological toll.
  • Managers have become less positive about their organisation as a place to work and measures of job satisfaction have declined.
  • Working hours have increased and managers are having to work even longer hours to cope with the volume of work and to meet deadlines.
  • Illness levels have increased but managers seem less likely to take time off work when they are genuinely ill – presenteeism has increased.
  • The types of negative symptons that have increased most – such as feeling unable to cope, difficulty making decisions and avoiding people – are the ones which tend to undermine managerial effectiveness.
  • Managers have lost trust in senior managers’ ability to have their best interests at heart – possibly because senior managers and directors are those charged with putting difficult cost reduction exercises into place.
  • The difference in perceptions between managers at different levels in the hierarchy is wider than ever and we are left feeling that many directors are out of touch with the reality of their organisation as most staff experience it.

The final conclusion of the report is…

Health and wellbeing initiatives – at a time when cost reduction is a major driver of change in many organisations, it is particularly important for employers to understand the potential benefits of investing in health initiatives in the workplace. There may be a clear business case for health improvement initiatives in order to cut the costs of absence levels, but investment decisions should also be driven by the understanding that improved health and wellbeing can generate significant employee productivity benefits as a result of higher levels of engagement.

The research highlights how especially difficult things are for people working in the public sector, and what the knock-on effects of this are in their organisations.  Despite the severe resource shortages, in terms of money and people, this picture demands attention and new strategic thinking and action…

Change is the norm – 92% of managers had experienced organisational change in the last year. The scale and variety of change was highest in the public sector, with 98% experiencing change.

More Organisations are in decline – 46% of public sector managers said their organisation was in decline, compared with 18% in the not for profit sector, and 19 per cent in the private sector.

Wellbeing is worse in declining organisations – the number of managers affected by symptoms of ill-health was markedly worse in declining businesses, compared to growing ones.

Job satisfaction declined significantly – dropping from 62% in 2007 to 55% in 2012. Job satisfaction and many other measures were at their lowest in the public sector.

The clear evidence here is that organisations can not afford to wait to resume their training and learning programmes until things have got better, but rather must find ways to invest in developing leaders whose style and behaviours are open, collaborative, listening, trusting and empowering…

Managers are losing faith in senior managers – in 2012, only 30% thought senior managers were managing change well, compared with 45% in 2007. The percentage that thought senior managers were committed to promoting employee wellbeing also declined from 55 to 39.

Directors have  a much rosier view than other managers – the perceptions of those at the top of the organisation were far more positive than those of junior managers, and this gap has widened since 2007.

Junior managers are the least committed to their organisations – 47% of junior managers said they would leave their present organisation if they could find another job.

Management style, wellbeing, motivation and organisational growth – the most common management styles reported were bureaucratic (45 per cent – up from 40 per cent); reactive (33 per cent – down from 37 per cent) and authoritarian (30 per cent – up from 29 per cent). All these styles have a negative impact on motivation, health, wellbeing and productivity levels.

Leadership style affects job satisfaction – the prevailing leadership style in an organisation was found to be one of the strongest determinants of job satisfaction. The sense of achievement managers got from their job, the extent to which they felt trusted to make decisions, their potential career prospects, the “achievability” of objectives, and whether they felt part of a team were other strong determinants of job satisfaction.

Respect, autonomy, trust and achievement motivate managers – four features emerged as very strong motivational drivers for managers: having the respect of your peers; having the ability to decide how to get jobs done yourself (role autonomy); feeling trusted to make decisions; and, the sense of achievement managers got from their job.

Growth firms have more positive management styles – the prevailing management styles were found to be radically different in growing and declining private sector firms with growth firms far more likely to have accessible, empowering, trusting and consensual senior managers.

Highly motivated managers had higher levels of wellbeing – the highly motivated had taken only 1.3 days absence in the last year compared to 11.3 days for those not motivated at all.

 

The report also paints a vivd picture of the extra difficulties of the conditions in which people are having to work in, and some of the consequences of these…

Managers are working longer hours – in 2007, 38% of managers worked two hours per day over contract – by 2012, this had increased to 46%. The average manager worked around 1.5 hours per day over contract, which equates to roughly 46 working days per year.

Managers were concerned about adverse effects of long hours – 59 per cent were concerned about effects on their stress levels; 56 per cent were concerned about psychological health; and 63 per cent of parents worried that their hours were affecting their relationship with their children.

Most managers do not feel they have good health – only 42% of managers reported being in ‘good’ health, 37% thought their health was satisfactory and 21% felt their health was poor.

Psychological wellbeing has declined – the likelihood of managers reporting ill-health increased on 12 of our 13 measures with stress showing the largest percentage increase. 42% reported suffering from symptoms of stress (up from 35% in 2007) and 18% reported suffering from depression (up from 15% in 2007).

While this report shows a picture of how things were in May 2012, it recognises that it is essential for leaders and organisations to be able to look ahead and begin to make better solutions that can pull them away from these escalating problems and their costs toward a more possible and successful future, and the report lays out a series of recommendations…

Managing Your Own Wellbeing 

Develop better self-awarenessmany managers need to become more aware of the consequences of their actions and inaction. The style in which you manage can have a real impact on the morale, motivation and productivity of those around you. Managers also need to be more aware of the limits of their own resilience and actively manage their health accordingly. Even relatively minor symptoms can affect your performance at work.

Analyse your own value systems– managers need to critically analyse and question their own value systems. Make time to reflect on your work: ask yourself why you take certain actions and be more explicit about the consequences of the choices you make at work on your health, your family and your long-term wellbeing. 

Balance work and home commitments – it is important to recognise that both home life and working life carry with them distinct rewards and responsibilities, and that individuals must create an environment that enables them to balance these demands. Neglecting one over the other will lead to poorer performance across the board, so be flexible and work smart to meet competing demands.

Manage your wellbeing – managers often need to change habits, responses and thought processes that create anxiety, stress and overwork. The evidence of this research suggests that this area is often neglected, but managing yourself – including your wellbeing – is an important foundation for sustaining high levels of performance in your work. 

Managing Team Wellbeing 

 Listen to your people – a particular challenge for Directors is to understand that things can look and feel very different to those outside the senior executive team. Directors need to escape the bubble and move out into their organisations, getting a sense of the working reality in different functions, locations, and levels. Share and communicate your motivations and your commitment to the organisation’s future – but be prepared to recognise the real factors which mean others feel differently.

Aim to become a high-trust organisation – the research identifies the benefits of creating high-trust working relationships. Some managers are expert in building trust and consensus, but this can be particularly difficult for those working in declining organisations where managers are often competing for scarce resources and opportunities. Explore how you can build trust with your staff – but recognise that it takes time and may not be easy in the wake of severe cost-cutting or restructuring.

Motivate your managers – create the conditions which provide strong motivation and engagement for your managers. Give your managers autonomy in their jobs, set clear objectives and offer warm recognition when success is achieved. Presenteeism is still rife in too many organisations: look to provide greater flexibility in working patterns by measuring outcomes rather than inputs.

Reassess the organisation’s dominant management style – do you fully understand the pros and cons of your management style? There may be sound reasons for existing styles – for example, bureaucracies are protective, but they can be wasteful and demotivating. Can your organisation reinvent itself as a high-trust organisation? Examine how you might move from procedural systems to more holistic systems that take greater account of your people.

Managing Change

Understand the implications of change – change has become the norm for many organisations.  All managers, but especially directors and senior managers, need to become more aware of the costs and consequences of their actions, particularly in the implementation of change. It is important to recognise that change is inherently unsettling but the challenge is to understand the potential effects, identify who will be affected – including those indirectly affected – and look to limit any negative effects.

Communication and participation in change – key challenges in the delivery of change include creating a climate of open communication. Senior managers need to be sure that they are regularly connected to what is actually happening at the frontline. Look for real participation, sharing problem-solving and decision-making with those who are responsible for implementing the change.

Developing the skills to manage change – managers at all levels need to be effectively trained in the planning and implementation of change. This demands a greater focus on people skills as well as the technical aspects of change management. 

 Promoting Health

Measure employee engagement and wellbeing in the organisationa more holistic view of how organisations are managed is needed, especially in periods of change. This can be developed by building in more effective employee engagement and wellbeing metrics into management information systems. This will counter the primacy of “monochrome” financial measures and key performance measures in many organisations. Employee metrics can provide a far better indicator of an organisation’s longer-term health and growth potential.

Health and wellbeing initiatives – at a time when cost reduction is a major driver of change in many organisations, it is particularly important for employers to understand the potential benefits of investing in health initiatives in the workplace. There may be a clear business case for health improvement initiatives in order to cut the costs of absence levels, but investment decisions should also be driven by the understanding that improved health and wellbeing can generate significant employee productivity benefits as a result of higher levels of engagement.

You can download for free the Full Report to the Executive Summary at Quality of Working Life 2012

The full findings are published in a 68-page page report, available free of charge online, or priced at just £30 for a hard copy. Visit the CMI website and you can also access a range of free resources aimed at helping you improve the quality of working life in your organisation, including CMI checklists – normally available exclusively to CMI members – plus expert advice from Simplyhealth.

Happiness At Work ~ edition one

Happiness At Work – edition one

Welcome to our very first online paper.


Here is our guide to this edition.  Every week we will curate a selection of the best stories, videos, sounds, pictures, reviews, tools and techniques from across the web that we hope will bring you ideas and fresh thinking to top up, invigorate and replenish your own  potential to flourish and thrive – at work and in your larger lives.

The paper.li app we are using to make this is an exciting way to curate a collection of web-based stories around a theme, in our case, our passionate quest to help build a world of happier people, who thrive on change and inspire the people around them.   It does not however give us any editorial control over how these stories are arranged and exhibited – its machine technology has chosen the section headings and what to group in them.   So here is our index for this week’s edition, using the section headings we would like to be able to provide.

We hope this gives you a better map to find your way to the ideas you are most interested in.

Here are some highlights in this week’s collection . . .

Understanding and Thinking About Happiness and Wellbeing

~ I have attempted to pull together a deliberately contradictory and competing weave of ideas about happiness in The I of (Un)Happiness – is our increasing knowledge making us happier?  See what you think…

~ Thinking about his work with startup founders, Joel Gasgoine points to the affect altruism has to our happiness in his blog Want To Be Happy and Successful?  Bring Happiness To Others

For today’s working women this is not such a winning formula.

~ Sheryl Sandberg eloquently raises more difficult issues about belonging and having a place at the table in her TedTalk Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders.  This presentation is part of the conversation about the barriers to flourishing that women continue to face that has recently been very alive in the states from Marie Slaughter’s article Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,  and in the UK around the debate asking Why is theatre so male, white and middle class?

Tools & Techniques

~ An introduction to the highly recommended Happiness At Work Survey, newly-launched last month by Tony Hsieh of Zappos & Nic Marks of the new economic foundation.  You can also see an earlier video of Nic Marks’ The Happy Planet Index TedTalk in videos.

~ Do Something You Love Every Day is the first of Susan Heathfield’s Top Ten Ways To Be Happy At Work;

~ You can hear and/or read Ben Waber recommendations for moving coffee stations and increase diversity as two of the Concrete Steps for Creating A Happier Office;

~ Team Building with Future Boards offers a creative approach to support collaborative strategy and work planning

~ For anyone feeling stuck in the wrong job, Amy Gallo offers six possibilities for becoming happier at work in her Harvard Business review article: Don’t Like Your Job – Change It (without quitting)

Ideas for Leaders

This week’s edition concentrates on motivation…

~ In How To Keep Your Employees Motivated Guy Farmer recommends:

1 – Praise your employees

2 – Create a workplace where people celebrate each other

3 – Give people meaningful work

4 – Value people equally, and

5 – Have a plan to keep people motivated.

Not earth shattering in its new thinking but we wonder how many leaders have these five things on their habitual range of management approaches?

~ RSA Animate – Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us is exactly what it says it is says. Enjoy.

~ Sheena Iyengar has some powerful new ideas about our new 21st century problem of having far too many choices in How To Make Choosing Easier

~ And Petra Kuenkal argues we need both balance and mindfulness to create and keep sustainability in our lives as much as in our leadership in her article Sustainability Leadership: how can we combine flatland and wonderland?

Learning and Self-Mastery  

We’ve pulled together a series of stories connected to the need for us to try and find balance, usually meaning making moments to slow down, even stop, and get some new air in our lungs and brains …

~ a simple introduction in Ed Halliwell’s School of Life blog On a Mindful Manifesto;

~ more detailed and very practical techniques in Melanie Greenberg’s Nine Essential Qualities of Mindfulness;

~ The Logic of Insomnia talks about how a racing brain prevents a good night’s sleep, emphasising the need for us to learn how to control our thinking that is key to a great deal of happiness and well-being approaches, including mindfulness;

~ and I have pulled together a clutch of further ideas linked to this theme in my performancemarks blog How To Be A Happy Freelancer – Tips for Getting A Good Work-Life Balance that has helpful tips for people working in organisations too, including how to get free of The Busy Trap

~ the importance of continually learning is highlighted in Moodscope’s blog, You, The Sponge;

~ James Levine advice for us To Stay On Schedule, Take A Break – ideally every fifteen minutes in fact.  We’d love to hear from anyone who works from a computer who actually comes close to achieving this!

This Week’s Books

Our number one book pick this week

Our favourite reference for understanding Happiness At Work we know: Jessica Pryce-Jones practical, intelligent and helpful book of research and practical ideas: Happiness At Work – Maximising Psychological Capital for Success.  Hear her talking about its main ideas in this Happiness At Work clip. You can take the online Science of Happiness iOpener People & Performance Survey that accompanies these ideas to get your own free report about your happiness at work.

~ Richard Wiseman brings some of the ideas from his book Rip It Up in his guardian article Self-Help – Forget Positive Thinking, Try Positive Action;

Brain Pickings ~ Maria Popova

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is so good that we’ve made it the first automatic feed into our Happiness At Work.  Here are highlights we’ve posted in this week’s edition…

~ Popova reviews the headline stealing latest addition in the UK to the happiness literature, Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote in Against Positive Thinking – Uncertainty as the Secret of Happiness.

~ Hear some of Burkeman’s ideas from his book in his RSA – The Antidote talk;

~ Prompted by Burkeman’s book, Popova provides a great précis of Learned Optimism: Martin Seligman on Happiness, Depression and the Meaningful Life.  Seligman is one of the most important thinkers in Positive Psychology, and we still think his model for what he emphatically calls Flourishing is one of the best frameworks on offer – a combination of Positive Emotion + Engagement + Great Relationships + Meaning from what we do + a sense of Accomplishment.  If we want to increase our happiness one of the best places to start is by considering which of these five might me undernourished, and try to do something to improve it.

~ We have also included Maria Popova’s 7 Must-Read Books in the Art & Science of Happiness – five of these are on our favourites list, two we haven’t read yet.

~ “Good music can act as a guide to living.” This quote from John Cage begins Popova’s review of his new biography Where the Heart Beat: John Cage, Zen Buddhism and the Inner Life of Artsists.

This Week’s Video and Music

One of the most inspiring things we’ve seen for some time was the Nicola Benedetti Southbank Show talking about her music and her involvement with Sistema Scotland, the most extraordinary and wonderful experiment in using music to help people to flourish.  There is so much here for us to pay attention to and learn from… Enjoy her music playing Bruch’s Violin Concerto – Nicola Benedetti and the Scottish Symphony Orchestra

~ Bobby McFerrin’s Demonstrating the Power of the Petonic Scale is 3minutes of pure delight.

~ Charles Hazelwood’s much longer TedTalk Trusting the Ensemble is really worth watching all the way through to enjoy his inspiring and quirky illustrations to his central message, that “where there is trust, there is music and, by extension, life. Where there is no trust music withers away.”

~ In Shilo Shiv Suleman’s Using technology to enable dreaming TedTalk of animated iPad wizardry, she makes us think about how to use our technology to step further inside our experiences, rather than pulling ourselves away and outside them.

~ Michael Norton tells us how we should be spending in his TedTalk How To Buy Happiness

~ More sheer enjoyment and delight in Abigail Washburn’s Building US-China relations… by banjo

~ And quite possibly the happiest band on the planet Pink Martini’s Hang On Little Tomato – no pictures in this video, just the music to enjoy.

We really hope there is something in this collection that you will find both helpful and enjoyable.  

Do please visit us at BridgeBuilders STG on Facebook and let us know what you think, add your own stories and ideas about Happiness At Work, and tell us anything you would really like to get in future editions Happiness At Work paper.li