Happiness At Work ~ route map to edition 6 (10th August 2012)

Welcome to this week’s route map to some of the stories, ideas, images and sounds in tour latest Happiness & Wellbeing At Work collection.

Our Top Happiness & Wellbeing Story This Week

Here is some of the coverage of the top Happiness Story that we noticed getting the most attention this week as the USA shows signs of joining the UK and several European countries in an attempt to index their citizens happiness and wellbeing. If you were still having doubts about the the potential for the study and rhetoric of Happiness and Wellbeing to have any lasting significance in our lives, perhaps this new noise from the leaders of the free world will make you think again…

Bernanke to Economists: More Philosophy, Please

Illustration by 731; Photograph by Getty Images

Is the USA moving toward a ‘happiness index’?

Which makes you happier — a pay raise or job security? Another TV or a friend next door? A bigger house or more free time?

Most countries measure how well they’re doing in stark numbers: money earned, electronics sold and homes built. But an increasing number are asking: Shouldn’t we find out how happy people are with all this stuff?

The United States, home to the smiley face and the Happy Meal, is attempting to do just that, responding to a movement that has been hailed as revolutionary and derided as “silly” or worse.

Several cities and states are already looking into citizen well-being or floating happiness initiatives. Yet the real game-changer could be a federally funded panel that is studying whether there’s a better way to tally prosperity. The panel, which started work in December and will report its findings next year, will recommend whether measures of happiness (and misery) should be added to the equation…

Bernanke to Economists: More Philosophy, Please

“Textbooks describe economics as the study of the allocation of scarce resources,” said Ben Bernanke on Monday morning. “That definition may be the ‘what,’ but it certainly is not the ‘why.’” He was speaking to the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, and “why” is not a question that Federal Reserve chairmen tend to ask in front of any audience. The Fed is charged with two precise, measurable tasks: Keep unemployment low and prices stable. These are indexes, numbers on a scale, and if a Fed chairman can keep them where they should be, he can be satisfied that he has done his job. In that sense, Bernanke is playing the world’s most complex video game.

But in Monday’s speech, Bernanke wandered outside the game. He asked why he should keep prices stable and unemployment down. Those numbers mean things to humans. They mean satisfaction, the ability to live within means. They mean happiness. These kinds of words make economists uncomfortable. Happiness resists measurement. When things cannot be measured, they cannot be modeled, and if economists aren’t using models, then they aren’t scientists.

In his speech on Monday, Bernanke pointed to the “Gross National Happiness” index of the Kingdom of Bhutan and to the OECD’s “Better Life Index,” which compares quality-of-life indicators across countries. And he suggests that economists track measures of job security, confidence about future employment prospects, degree of upward mobility, and changes in the distribution of income. To Jerry Evensky, this sounds a lot like Adam Smith, who considered himself a moral philosopher. “Smith thought the metric of society is how the least of the working class is doing,” says Evensky, “the metric of a good life is not material well being, but secure tranquility.”

Two years ago, Bernanke gave a commencement address at the University of South Carolina. He apologized for talking about economics to a group of celebrating 22-year-olds, and then instead talked about happiness. Happiness is right there in the Declaration of Independence, he said, so we should study it. He went into great detail on the “Easterlin Paradox,” the finding of economistRichard Easterlin that above a certain income level, more money doesn’t buy much more happiness. “Or, as your parents always said, ‘Money doesn’t buy happiness,’” the chairman said, adding, “Well, an economist might reply, ‘At least not by itself.’” To the profession of economics, Bernanke is now saying: Money doesn’t buy happiness; figure out what does.

Bernanke Talks Pursuit of Happiness

The list of go-to metrics economists rely upon to make their judgments of how Americans — and the economy — are faring sometimes only captures one part of the picture.

In a speech given two years ago on the “Economics of Happiness” Bernanke defined “happiness” as a “short-term stage of awareness that depends on a person’s perception of one’s immediate reality, as well as on immediate external circumstances and outcomes. By ‘life satisfaction’ I mean a longer-term state of contentment and well-being that results from a person’s experience over time.”

Statistics like gross domestic product, consumer spending, disposable income, household net worth — while pertinent in monitoring individual’s ability to meet their needs and reflect changes in the economy — don’t necessarily capture the entirety of any one person’s full life experience.

Rather, what’s left over is a variety of factors that ultimately contribute to an individuals’ well-being, like belonging to a family, confidence about the future, and ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Money Guru Seeks Guide To Happiness

In his latest remarks, Bernanke turned to the more difficult task of measuring a subjective emotion. Most efforts have involved surveys in which people are asked whether they are happy and what contributes to their happiness.
Those surveys have found some consistent answers: physical and mental health, the strength of family and community ties, a sense of control over one’s life, and opportunities for leisure activity.
The Kingdom of Bhutan has been tracking happiness for four decades. The tiny Himalayan nation stopped tracking gross national product in 1972 and switched to measuring Gross National Happiness.
Bernanke sketched out a few other questions he would like answered: how secure do Americans feel in their jobs? How confident are Americans in their future job prospects? How prepared are families for financial shocks?
These indicators “could be useful in measuring economic progress or setbacks as well as in explaining economic decision-making”, he said.

Bernanke on ‘Happiness’ and the Economic Recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ben Bernanke wants to know if you are happy.

The Federal Reserve chairman said Monday that gauging happiness can be as important for measuring economic progress as determining whether inflation is low or unemployment high. Economics isn’t just about money and material benefits, Bernanke said. It is also about understanding and promoting “the enhancement of well-being.”

Bernanke says economic data masking average Americans’ struggles

More attention should be paid to microeconomic data, which can give a better sense of what’s happening to specific types of households and businesses, Ben Beranke said. And economists should try to find better ways to measure “economic well-being.”

In a commencement addresstwo years ago, Bernanke talked about “The Economics of Happiness.” He said studies have shown that income and wealth play a role in how people define their own happiness, but there are other factors as well – “a strong sense of support from belonging to a family or core group and a broader community, a sense of control over one’s life, a feeling of confidence or optimism about the future and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances.”

Alternative measures of well-being are being developed around the world and have started to play a role in policy debates and statistical analysis, he said.

Let’s measure happiness, Ben Bernanke says

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s public search for better tools to measure economic “happiness” struck a chord yesterday with Hub workers and Fed watchers who said his comments demonstrate the disconnect between central bankers and struggling Americans.

“A lot of things they say are more ‘put on a good face for the public’ when in reality they know how bleak things are and what direction we’re going in,” said Jeff Kiley, 25, an account executive from Somerville. “We’re kind of just treading water right now instead of thriving or getting beyond what’s happened in the past three or four years.”

The Thrift Paradox: US Savers May Be Happier, But the Economy Suffers

Fed’s Bernanke considers the economics of happiness as Harris Private Bank finds that thrifty Americans hamper growth

Economic research shows that money doesn’t buy happiness, says the Fed’s Bernanke.

Consumer spending—or more precisely, the lack of it—continues to hamper the U.S. economy as Americans reconsider what it takes to make them happy. This thrift paradox has become increasingly apparent as Americans, after their earlier decades of spending and indebtedness, have gotten into the habit of saving their money to the detriment of national growth, according to a recent report from Harris Private Bank.

At the same time, the “economics of happiness” suggests that the relationship of income and wealth to well-being is more complex than economic policymakers have traditionally assumed it to be, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke noted Monday in a speech before the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth in Cambridge, Mass.

In short, it looks like post-recession Americans have truly learned that money doesn’t buy happiness.

“An interesting finding in the literature is that the overwhelming majority of people in the United States and in many other countries report being very happy or pretty happy on a daily basis, a finding that researchers link to people’s intrinsic abilities to adapt and find satisfaction in their lives even in very difficult circumstances,” Bernanke said.

At the same time, however, the Fed chairman did acknowledge that many Americans are struggling and not too happy about their finances.

Lewis: Uncle Ben wants us to be happy

Bernanke has come a long way since promising the subprime mortgage crisis would be contained, even as it spilled across oceans. Though traditional measures of the U.S. economy have indeed shown spates of improvement over the ensuing years, Bernanke has not succumbed to economic cheerleading.

This is remarkable since the pressure on the Fed Chair to claim positive results for the trillions he’s pumped into the global economy is probably more than most men could bear. Through it all, Bernanke has remained acutely aware that economic reports don’t always match people’s actual economic conditions.

Bernanke’s Pursuit of Happiness

Yesterday Bernanke, in a pre-recorded speech to a conference in Cambridge, MA, extolled the virtues of happiness economics.

Let’s be honest, there was little point in him singing the praises of his own area of economics, that’s fallen flat on its face.

Across the developed world the damages from the fiat money system become greater every day. Governments and central bankers are the ones to thanks for widening levels of poverty and inequality. The majority of our daily lives are affected by decisions made from us drawn from economic studies and statistics. But now the most sacred thing to all of us – our happiness – is something the most powerful government on earth would like to get their hands on…

Other Happiness & Wellbeing Stories This Week

Comment: Olympics sexism still rife amongst tweeters and even journalists


Female athletes have enjoyed a high profile at the London Olympics. British Olympic stars Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Adlington and Beth Tweddle are amongst many who have seen their already very public profiles increase with further medal success.

On the surface it seems women are finally gaining the recognition and respect as sportswomen that they deserve. And in the case of Ennis and Pendleton, whose dominance of their respective sports has meant massive sponsorship deals and increased exposure, it would appear top women sports stars are close to, if not already enjoying, parity with their male counterparts.

However, any illusions sexism and prejudice were a thing of the past were dashed unceremoniously on Monday night during the women’s shot put event…

Op-ed: Gender and the Olympics

The Olympics is a reminder that competition between nations need not be in the battlefield, but can be on the sports pitch, to spread tolerance and egalitarianism. And in London 2012 the blaring Olympic torch is adding another dimension: the fight against the darkness of stereotypes..

More Women Than Ever in 2012 Olympics So Why Are They Still Second Class?

At least two countries attending the 2012 Olympics made a policy decison to fly their male competitors business class and their female athletes in economy.

When I first heard this blatant piece of discrimination against women I honestly thought it must be wrong. Surely in this day and age no one could be that crass. After all, these are the Olympic Games with more women competing in them than ever before, the games which the Olympic president declared a ‘major boost for gender equality‘. How could it be true that both Australia and Japan flew men business class and its women economy.

Well, it seems they did…

Women’s Health and Wellbeing Worldwide

Gallup is out with a special series of articles on women around the world. Gallup analysts mined Gallup World Poll data from more than 140 countries to uncover the areas in which women trail behind men the most.

Health turned out to be one area in particular where women lag men worldwide. Specifically, women are less likely than men to be satisfied with their health and are more likely to experience physical pain, health problems, and sadness.

Mental well-being of working adults 13% lower than general population

SINGAPORE – The mental well-being of working adults in Singapore is 13 per cent lower than the general population, according to the Health Promotion Board (HPB) which conducted a survey with 1,000 respondents.

Nose for happiness: Doctors discover NASAL SPRAY that can stop couples having heated arguments

News from the Daily Mail of a new wonder drug – see what you think…

After a few sniffs of hormone, university study shows men are more positive and sensitive about a disagreement and women are more friendly…

Happiness & Wellbeing At Work

The Happiness Test: A Foolproof Way of Being Happy?

Ninety-five years ago, in the first issue of his magazine, Forbes, B. C. Forbes asked a big question: “Business was originated to produce happiness. Are we in danger of forgetting this?”

Its a basic human desire to be happy. Happy people tend to be healthier and live longer. They also tend to be more productive employees and more loyal customers.

But how do we become happier?

Procrastination: Dealing with the thief of time

 Procrastination melting the clock

The simple truth about procrastination…

‘Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task,‘  the psychologist William James, famously once said. And he’s right, I get exhausted by thinking of all the things I have to do on my to-do list.

Procrastination is not an inborn trait; procrastinators are made, not born. It is not a time management problem; a lot of procrastinators are actually good at estimating time and are good planners.They know exactly how much time it takes to iron a pile of laundry, to cook the dinner, to put fuel in the car…

So Why Do People Procrastinate?

Never Happier Than When Writing

J.K. Rowling has said of herself as a child: “I was shy. I was a mixture of insecurities and very bossy to my sister but quite quiet with strangers. Very bookish. Terrible at school.”

She was also “never happier than when reading or writing.”

Feeling happiness or other positive emotions has a strong connection with being creative, according to a number of research studies…

“…people are happiest when they come up with a creative idea, but they’re more likely to have a breakthrough if they were happy the day before. There’s a kind of virtuous cycle.”

How Do You Define Feminism at Work?

How do younger woman in the workforce, planning to have success in both career and family, view the debate? Have we become too preoccupied by distinguishing and specifying our peers and successful women as “feminists”? Pragmatically, perhaps we should simply focus on their success, rather than a label.

Struggling to come to terms with the evolving role of women, and specifically feminists, in the workplace, we spoke to Caroline Ghosn, Founder and CEO of The Levo League, about what it means to be a young woman in the workplace today…

This, Not Money, Motivates Americans to Work Harder

Trying to please co-workers is a stronger motivating factor than a high salary for some employees, new research shows.

The study by researchers at the University of Iowa found that a sense of belonging and attachment to a group of colleagues is a better motivator for some than money.  “Peer pressure is a strong motivating force, and workers’ willingness to please people who mean something to them is often a stronger motivating force than financial rewards,” said George Stewart, one of the study’s authors and a professor of management and organisations…

Happiness Generates Revenue

Serial entrepreneur Ted Leonsis asks entrepreneurs to question their definition of success…

Trust In The Workplace: What Does It Mean To You?

Why old style leadership development hasn’t worked: what we should be doing?

What I hear from most participants from Leadership Development Programmes is what you are trying to teach me is all very well, and I get it, but I don’t see it in my masters and leaders in this organisation. Indeed the behaviours that get you to the top of this organisation are not what you are telling me a good leader does. The problem is that those behaviours are not innate to those at the top of our organisations.

So why should I adopt your premise of leadership development?

New happiness @ Work Appreciative Team Building process from Life maters transforms ME to WE

This Team building programme from South Africa may be overwritten with acronyms and self-consciously clever language, but the ideas that give it its framework are worth considering…

The new Happy Appreciative Resilient Dedicated (HARD) Team/Tribe building process and relationship improvement initiative that…

  • transforms teams/Tribe Consciousness and happiness level
  • builds greater trust
  • enhances staff satisfaction, engagement and productivity
  • elevates Mental Model Languaging/ Perception
  • and builds Psychological Capital & Appreciative mindsets.

“Most corporate training and motivational-style team building workshops are a waste of time and money if you are looking for value and long-term results”, says Tony Dovale – Chief Culture Shift Coach at LifeMasters. “Typically less than 10% of what people learn in a training workshop is used back in the workplace!”

In order to resolve this dilemma, says Dovale, based upon our past staff development intervention experiences and extensive happiness @work and team working research, we have launched an innovative HARD (Happy Appreciative Resilient & Dedicated) team building intervention and staff development process

When Life Throws You Curve Balls: How To Manage Uncertainty

How to Manage Uncertainty

Do you face uncertainty in your life?

How do you manage them?

National framework to improve mental health and wellbeing published ~ 24 July, 2012

The government has published the Mental health implementation framework, which sets out what organisations can do to make the 6 high-level objectives of the mental health strategy No Health without Mental Health a reality.

Today Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Care Services Minister Paul Burstow will call on employers to take 5 simple steps to improve the mental health of their staff. Mental ill health costs British businesses over £1000 per employee every year, or almost £30 billion across the UK economy. This is mostly in lost production through staff being off work or underperforming at work.

The Mental health implementation framework sets out what employers, schools, businesses, local authorities, housing organisations, voluntary groups and health and care organisations can do to promote good mental health, whether it’s clinical commissioning groups appointing mental health leads, schools developing awareness programmes to help staff recognise pupils at risk, or employers supporting the mental health of their workforce.

Who’s Responsible For Happiness At Your Event? or Workplace?

You probably don’t need a formally appointed “Chief Happiness Officer” but if no one takes care of that responsibility, it’s difficult to craft an experience that produces/allows/encourages/supports happiness.

Business in Little boxes: Stop trying to jump out in a one-off 90-minute workshop

Not much has changed since Malvina Reynolds, songwriter and political activist, wrote the song Little Boxes in 1962. Instead of just the boys becoming professionals, now both sexes do, but education and work still by and large put us in little boxes and expect us to be all the same.

When my colleagues and I build the capacities of other consultancy groups, we often play this video at the beginning of workshops to connect them with the meta-context of introducing innovation, creativity and change with their clients. The reason why organisations keep talking about the importance and elusiveness of thinking ‘outside the box’ is that it’s darned tough if you’re raised in a series of them.

Traits of the ‘Get It Done’ Personality: Laser Focus, Resilience, and True Grit

Traits of the 'Get It Done' Personality

Silas Crews for the Chronicle

Robert J. Sternberg has studied the way people accomplish goals and stay motivated…

Being passionate about your work and resilient in the face of setbacks are key, most experts agree.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s easy to think that you’re a loser and to stop trying,” says author and psychologist, Robert J. Sternberg.

Self-regulation—being aware of what matters to you and having the discipline to avoid temptations and see it through—is another important quality, he says. “What happens to a lot of people is that they get totally caught up in trivia, and later they complain they were asked to do too much of this or that. Ultimately it’s your responsibility to regulate yourself and decide what’s important and what isn’t.”

No matter where you are, though, “it’s very easy to let pushing papers and attending meetings consume all your time,” Mr. Sternberg says. “You have to decide what your priorities are and say, ‘I’m going to make it happen’—and then just make it happen.”

15 Tips to Become a Successful Part Time Entrepreneur

A list of things that will increase productivity and the chances of your business becoming successful for struggling entrepreneurs…

What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Their Brains

How To Become A Better Leader Awareness

Are you more like Howard Schultz of Starbucks, the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Richard Branson of Virgin, or Tony Hsieh of Zappos? Knowing the answer could help you become more successful in your business.

Being aware of how your brain works can help you make better decisions as an entrepreneur, contend the authors of a new book, Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012). Business veterans Tony Tjan, Dick Harrington, and Tsun-yan Hsieh interviewed and researched more than 500 business leaders from young, upstart entrepreneurs to experienced CEOs and identified four character traits that define a business leaders’ decision-making process…

Leadership and Happiness & Wellbeing At Work

Are Your Employees Happy At Work?

American statistics that have a strong parallel with UK research findings…

Think being happy at work is a nice thing? You’d be very wrong. Happy employees are essential to the well being of your business.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been polling over 1,000 adults every day since January 2008, shows that Americans now feel worse about their jobs — and work environments — than ever before. People of all ages, and across income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organisations and detached from what they do.

Additionally, Gallup estimates that because workers are not engaged, American businesses lose $300 billion in productivity each year…

Managers who listen to the problems that employees experience, help solve problems, and remove barriers so that the employees feel like they are making meaningful progress, are more likely to have happy employees. And, if Gallup’s studies are to be believed, having happy employees will magnify the success of your business – beyond calculation.

6 Cost-Effective Strategies to Improve Employee Motivation

In today’s world, where jobs are at a premium and companies are downsizing at unprecedented rates, it is crucial to get the most out of your workforce. But only 20% of Americans feel very passionate about their jobs and 33% feel they have reached a dead-end, according to a Harris survey. Out of all survey participants, younger workers feel the least amount of loyalty toward their employers.

So how do you improve employee motivation? Offering greater pay often isn’t always an option, and there might not be sufficient funds in the budget for typical motivational tools or rewards. However, by using a little common sense and creativity, there are plenty of ways to motivate your employees for little or no cost.

Here are some affordable and free ideas to motivate employees at your company…

3 Steps to Becoming a More Grateful Leader – Cultivate the Attitude of Gratitude

Having an attitude of gratitude is a leadership gift. It can have a positive impact on those you lead. People are often more motivated, for example, by those who show gratitude. In one study bigger tips were given to servers who wrote “Thank you” on their checks. In another study, jewelry store customers who were called and thanked increased their purchases by 70% as opposed to a 0% increase by customers who were not called…

Leadership by Choice

Leadership is always a choice. In Leadership by Choice, author Eric Papp says it means “making a conscious choice to positively influence those around you by managing yourself and leading others in four areas….”

Communication — How well do you listen, ask questions, and speak with influence? How many of our problems are caused by lack of listening?

Leading Teams – How well do you establish trust, healthy conflict, and achieve results with others?

Productivity – How well do you spend your time and how focused are you?

Personal Development – What are you doing to develop yourself?

10 Traits of Women Business Leaders: They’re Not What You Think

What do successful women have in common? You think I’m going to tell you that they have magical multi-tasking skills, motivational genius, or maybe just a really great spouse. But the number one thing that successful women business leaders have in common is that they don’t let the persistent underrepresentation of women in business deter them from taking a place at the table…

5 Quick Ways You Can Bring Positive Psychology To Your Workplace

Business leaders can take seemingly small steps to improve the psyche of their employees—changing the overall working environment…

Seven leadership sins

Not long ago, marketing guru Seth Godin blogged about the seven marketing sins. I think they provide a great framework for the seven leadership sins:








When guilt in leaders is a good thing

When we think of the ideal leader, we tend to think of a standard set of traits: extroverted, decisive, intelligent and even tall. Here’s one more we may have to add to the list: guilt prone.

Stanford professor Francis Flynn and his doctoral student Rebecca Schaumberg say that guilt-prone individuals may make better leaders…

5 Reasons Why Optimists Make Better Leaders

  1. Optimists start businesses…
  2. Optimists are inspiring communicators…
  3. Optimists rally people to a better future…
  4. Optimists see the big picture…
  5. Optimists elicit super human effort…

12 Most Inspiring “I” Indicators of Great Leaders

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Rock Bottom: How Great Leaders Triumph Over Failure

Steve Jobs was fired from his own company; Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison; and Abraham Lincoln failed in business, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated in eight elections. So how did all these people achieve such extraordinary success?

We all know of business leaders, authors, celebrities, and sports stars who after a brief moment in the sun hit rock bottom only to rise again, overcome adverse circumstances, claw their way back to the top, and inspire the world around them. The stuff of legends and Hollywood movies, these comeback stories are incredible to hear. But when failure is fresh, and it’s yours, it’s often hard to believe that recovery, let alone success, is possible.

From rejection to workplace screw-ups, everyone has experienced that all-too-familiar gut-wrenching numbness. Even small failures can stalk you like a dark cloud, causing others to question your abilities. Worse, it can seriously undermine your self-assurance.

In my early years in business, I nearly drove a company I had founded bankrupt. I betrayed my own values and goals and lost everything, including the support of many important people in my life. However, it was from this adversity that I discovered the three keys to overcoming failure…

Personal Happiness & Wellbeing

The 3 Mistakes That Keep You Struggling

Are you finding your dreams a struggle?

You know that your future could be enjoyable, fulfilling and profitable. You probably even know what you have to do to make it happen.

So why is it that when you start moving in the right direction, you hit a slump, fall off of the wagon, and find yourself at a standstill wondering what went wrong…

6 Surprising Ways To Be Happier

‘The following six ideas may seem counterintuitive at first blush, but bear with me’ writes psychiatrist, Sheenie Ambardar, ‘you might find a kernel of truth in each that resonates with you’:

  1. Make Less Money
  2. Don’t Get Married
  3. Be Selfish
  4. Be Ignorant
  5. Have Fewer Friends
  6. Never Try To Fit A Round Peg Into A Square Hole

Training the Brain for Happiness

A podcast from Steven Cherry

There’s new data on the complicated genetic basis of depression and happiness… Steven Cherry talks with psychologist Elaine Fox and her ideas that “subtle variation in how we see the world—our biases and quirks of mind—can reshape the actual architecture of our brain, pushing us toward a more optimistic or pessimistic take on life. By changing the way our brain responds to challenges and joys, we can change the way we are.”

What Do Happy People Have In Common?

“Researchers have found that happy people are ten times more likely to be other-oriented than self-centered. This suggests that happiness is a by-product of helping others rather than the result of its pursuit.”

How to Be Happy: The Fine Print

Most of us want to be happy and stay that way, and research from positive psychology has shown that making a habit of certain day-to-day activities—like expressing gratitude, exercising, or performing acts of kindness—can help us get there.

But few researchers have considered how to identify an activity that’s best suited to your particular personality and lifestyle.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, started to explore these questions in her 2007 book, The How of Happiness. Now, Lyubomirsky and a graduate student of hers, Kristin Layous, are zeroing in on why some activities may “fit” for some people and not others (summarized in a chapter for a forthcoming book, The Dark and Light Side of Happiness).

“A lot of different research has found that these activities have positive effects,” she says, “so I think the next step is understanding how they work best and what considerations we need to think about before we mass recommend them to everyone.”

Let’s call it “the fine print” of how to be happy, the little details you should consider before undertaking happiness activities…

Smile Your Way Out of Stress?

A new study finds even a phony smile can help you handle stress…

Put a pencil between your lips in just the right way, and you’ll feel happier—though you won’t know why. The result is so reliable, I used this trick on students as a foolproof demo when I taught intro to psychology.

This effect demonstrates the “facial feedback” theory of emotion—but you can think of it as “fake it til you make it.” The idea is simple: your brain is constantly monitoring what’s happening in your body. It analyzes things like muscle tension, posture, heart rate, breathing, and, yes, facial expressions, to judge how you are feeling.

Put yourself in a happier position, and you can boost your mood. Practice a depressed face and slumped posture, and watch the gloom set in. The pencil trick works because it forces your face to mimic a genuine smile, recruiting just the muscles of the mouth, cheeks, and eyes that come to life when you are happy.

Rather than limit yourself to a chopstick trick, practice putting your entire body into a more relaxed, confident, or supported position. Learn how to stand tall and breathe well. A basic yoga class should take care of this. Then, when you find yourself stressed out, anxious, or in pain, do your best to fully embody the attitude or emotion you’d like to experience.

Angela Mollard: When Happy Is Hard

Remember when ‘happy’ was just something you were? Or weren’t. Good days, bad days, happy days, sad days – all jumbled in a life you lived rather than thought about too much.

Today happiness is a commodity; a ‘goal’, a ‘revolution’, a ‘project’. It’s what we want for ourselves and our children. “Yes, please,” we’d say to the doctor if she could vaccinate against sadness, along with the usual measles and mumps. Anything to immunise ourselves against pain and unease.

We live in a culture that propagates the notion that happiness should be a constant state of mind and perfection our universal aim. To that end, most weeks I write jaunty, optimistic and ‘wise’ missives underneath a photo that makes me look 10 times prettier than I really am. “Great life, lucky cow,” you probably say to yourself and, yes, sometimes it is and sometimes I am.

But if I neglect to tell you the bad stuff – the hard, horrible, trying times – then I’m as guilty of perpetuating perfect images as those ads where mums are always smiling…

Study: Pretending Everything’s Okay Works

CAMBRIDGE, MA—A study released Thursday by researchers at Harvard University’s Department of Psychology has found that the simple act of pretending one’s life is not a complete shambles threatening to collapse at any moment works. “Even when everything is coming apart at the seams and disaster is almost certainly imminent, putting up a good front for friends and loved ones makes everything better,” said Professor Christine Wanamaker, who explained that smiling a lot and evasive answers were usually enough to get by…

Why Success Breeds Success: The Science of “The Winner Effect”

Biochemistry and the self-reinforcing upward spiral of winning.  We hold the keys to victory within us, but usually cannot find them…

Byron Katie Just Wants You to Be Happy

Byron Katie just wants you to be happy. She doesn’t know you, but she believes she can help you find your happiness, and countless of her fans and followers would agree. She also thinks that helping you find happiness goes a long way in solving the myriad problems in the world. She’s been on Oprah. Tony Robbins is a fan and incorporates her work into his own teachings. Her methods are remarkably simple; she only asks that you question your own thoughts and that you accept reality for what it really is. You will wonder why you never thought of it.

What Bryon Katie is offering is a method of self-inquiry that allows us to free ourselves from the anger and negativity we feel when we accept our thoughts, unquestioned, as true. We cause much of our own suffering by believing what our minds tell us. If we can see that certain thoughts are the cause of our own unhappiness, we can begin to let go and be free of them. Questioning these thoughts, putting them to the test of The Work, is a form of enlightenment. If the unexamined life is not worth living, perhaps the unexamined thought is not worth thinking.

It certainly can’t hurt to try.

Can We Kill The Easterlin Paradox Now Please: It’s Wrong

In this Forbes Comment, Tim Worstall emphasises the erroneousness of the research that originally showed greater income did not bring greater happiness once our basic needs have been met. However his pleas for more moderate taxation of the rich fails to consider the increasing body of research that is showing that the greater inequality between people in a society, the lower their happiness levels will be. This seems to be the main reason why the happiness people on the planet live in Scandinavian countries, where people are taxed to create a high level of economic equality, and South American countries where there is relatively little difference between the highest and lowest incomes.

One of the great sadnesses of the social sciences, possibly of all sciences, is that ideas and theories seem to percolate through into the general population as great truths at just about the time that they are being rejected in the science. As an example take the Easterlin Paradox.

This is the idea that sure, happiness increases when income increases: but only up to a certain level. Often described as being well, yes, sufficient food, clothing, housing and so on make us happier but above that getting on the hedonic treadmill, trying to keep up with the neighbours with gadgets and gewgaws, does not.

Here’s Lane Kenworthy (please note Kenworthy is an excellent and generally lefty researcher. This is not the invention of some right wing loon like myself):

3. Once you reach the middle class, more income doesn’t make you any happier.

In the mid-1970s, economist Richard Easterlin posited, based on a pattern he observed across nations, that income boosts happiness only to a point, after which it yields no further benefit. (His paper reverberated in academic circles and helped drive the development of economic research on happiness.) So, if slow middle-class income growth is of little consequence to our subjective well-being, why should we fret about it?

New research, however, has called into question the “Easterlin paradox.” We now have better data to assess the effect of income on happiness. Those data tell us that happiness increases in line with household income up to about $75,000. Beyond that, we get less of a happiness bump from each additional buck, but it does continue to rise.

Geetanjali Krishna: Stitching up happiness

Now, in his twilight years, Masterji wants to somehow give back to the world. “Rich people can easily give money to the poor. I used to wonder what a poor man like me could offer society! That’s when the idea of stitching poor people’s clothes for free occurred to me,” he said. So this has become Masterji’s humble contribution to society. “Everything in life comes full circle,” he said. “I believe that every poor person who wears a garment stitched by me will send some positive energy my way….”

Would he call this, I asked naively, the key to his longevity? He smiled his toothless happy smile and said, “I don’t know about that. But it is certainly the key to my happiness….”

Art, Performance & Sound

The Scandalous Failure of Art and Music

Art, music and culture are failing to do their jobs properly in contemporary society, which is something we ought to change. In the absence of cultural stories told through art, music, theater and the like, we are left solely with current events as our only tool with which to understand our lives and plan our futures, we don’t learn vicariously anymore…

Art and music need to address these realities. It’s not enough anymore to wait until a disaster occurs then play the memorial concert or erect another scarring monument to our collective loss. Art should instead lead the way in a real community conversation about life.

Fidget Project ~ A unique fusion of art, science and wiggling, Fidget is a dynamic interactive experience changing your understanding of the science of sitting on the sofa.

We sit too much and need to move more…

Michael Pinsky’s live action gaming experience challenges a nation’s love affair with the sofa.

Michael Pinsky is a renowned British artist, whose international projects have created innovative and challenging works in galleries and public spaces. His role as artist, urban planner, activist and researcher make him the ideal visionary to create innovative mediums to challenge our perceptions of what is really happening when we simply sit!

Happiness: An Evening With Tony Hawks ~ an Action For Happiness event

“I was putting my trust in other people. Helping other people is good for them, so you’re doing somebody a favour when you let them help you” ~ Tony Hawks talking about his adventure hitching around Ireland with a fridge, and then what we can learn about happiness and wellbeing from his experiences…

On 30 June 2012, best-selling author and comedian Tony Hawks shared his unique perspective on life and happiness, including his views on generosity, the politics of wellbeing and why he believes happiness comes less from material things and more from helping others.

Tony has been a supporter of Action for Happiness since before its launch and has spoken passionately in support of the movement on BBC radio and at public events.

Here is a video from the event for those who couldn’t make it.

Interrogate! Happiness Festival

Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th October 2012. Dartington Hall

Back for another year and this time happiness is centre stage. With support from Action for Happiness

As autumn closes in and some of us get SAD, join us at Dartington for Interrogate! Happiness, your chance to spend a weekend looking at what makes us happy. How can we learn to be happy at work, in our families and at school? Is mindfulness the new religion when it comes to happiness? Should the government focus on gritty issues like banks and growth or is their job to make us smile?

How Big Is Infinity? An Animated Explanation From TED

The fine folks at TED-Ed have teamed up with educator Dennis Wildfogel and animation studio Augenblick to explore the dimensions of infinity through this stimulatingly mind-bending lesson on legacies of mathematicians Georg Cantor, David Hilbet, Kurt Gödel, and Paul J. Cohen, exposing both the genius and limitations of mathematics.

The Science of How Music Enchants the Brain, Animated

How harmony, melody, and rhythm trigger the same reward systems that drive our desires for food and sex.

Happiness At Work is a weekly collection of the best ideas, stories, links, tools & techniques for improving Happiness & Wellbeing At Work for Individuals, Leaders and Organisations curated by BridgeBuilders STG Limited 
The collection is refreshed with new stories every Friday, and we welcome any suggestions of links you would like to see included in new collections.
This means that this same Happiness At Work link will always connect you to the latest collection.
The postings all remain permanently in this site, and you can see postings in previous collections at any time by clicking on the Archives menu in the top left of the screen, and choosing an earlier Friday back to the first edition published 6th July 2012
Happiness At Work ~ edition 2 (13th July 2012)

We hope you enjoy these collections and wish you success and happiness with all that you are making and making happen…

4 thoughts on “Happiness At Work ~ route map to edition 6 (10th August 2012)

    • Sorry you are having problems getting the images from this post. I can’t find any problem my end so not sure what to suggest.
      Thank you for you interest in the blog and I hope you get problem-free viewing in the future.
      All the best

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