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….

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

  1. Pingback: Happiness At Work ~ route map to edition 6 (10th August 2012) | performance~marks

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