Happiness At Work #41 – highlights in this week’s edition

women leadership

This week’s collection highlights voices from across an array of different contexts who are championing  the importance of learning about happiness and resilience:

Dr Anthony Seldon: Happiness Isn’t Superficial, It’s Vitally Important

Politicians, administrators and educationalists who are shaping schools around the world are profoundly wrong in believing that exam success is the only metric of value. We are developing generations of dysfunctional and misguided products from our exam factory system.

The most risible criticism of all is that an education directed towards the discovery of happiness is superficial. Have the critics not read their Aristotle? One of our greatest priorities should be to help young people learn life skills and attitudes that are conducive to living a flourishing life and making a positive contribution to society; to help them discover that bringing happiness to others leads to a much deeper sense of fulfilment than any A grade or iphone ever could…

Resilience training helps people to tune in to their perception of situations and to learn to distinguish perception from fact. Over time, students become more aware of thinking patterns that are not helpful – which causes them excessive anxiety and procrastination, or animosity with others – and they learn to challenge those patterns of thought with evidence so that they can gain a more accurate and flexible perspective. They develop habits of mind that can help to avoid an unnecessary or unpleasant burden from emotion, or from thoughts and actions that, upon reflection, they might regret.

This isn’t superficial. In fact it couldn’t be more important, both for our young people and for society as a whole. Our education system should help children to develop the character traits that underpin a happy and meaningful life – including empathy, generosity, resilience and compassion. Because the values that our children learn today don’t just shape their future lives, they determine the destiny of our society.

Should Universities Teach Wellbeing?

Jules Evans, Queen Mary, University of London, writes…

If universities were to introduce well-being classes, they would have to be philosophically pluralist, exploring the different approaches to well-being and the good life. I also think they could be liberal, in the American sense of balancing the humanities with the sciences, balancing ethics with evidence.

Students went to Plato’s Academy, or Aristotle’s Lyceum, or Epictetus’ school in Nicopolis, precisely to learn how to flourish. When Plato founded his Academy, 2,400 years ago this year, the idea was that you brought the whole of yourself to education, not just your intellect. When did we start thinking that academic work should leave out the emotions?

Think positive

Richard Schoch on whether children should be taught how to be happy

Richard Schoch, professor of the history of culture at Queen Mary, University of London and author of The Secrets of Happiness: Three Thousand Years of Searching for the Good Life, writes in The Guardian:

Just as “one swallow does not make a springtime”, Aristotle reasoned, one pleasant day does not make a whole life happy. Which is another way of saying that we could all use some help in our search for happiness.

So, yes, there is a place for happiness in the classroom, just as there is a place for it in the home, in youth groups, in churches, in mosques, and in synagogues. Call it happiness, call it morality, call it “life skills”, the label scarcely matters. What matters is that the ideal happiness curriculum already exists, and had existed for centuries. The problem is that it has been overlooked, sometimes in the faddish pursuit of the latest scientific discovery and sometimes out of historical amnesia. Still, humanity’s accumulated wisdom about the pursuit and achievement of happiness is there for anyone who wants to learn from it.

Other highlights in this week’s collection include:

Happiness At Work

Wellbeing the ‘second revolution’ for women in the workplace

…are we now on the cusp of a second wave of this revolution? One that doesn’t require women to necessarily “lean in” as Sheryl Sandberg would argue, but rather for both genders to demand the cultural and structural changes required of their workplaces to better reflect the modern lifestyle, and create working environments that actually address that (still bizarrely forgotten about) major demographic shift that saw women enter the workforce?

This second revolution could benefit both genders. By fundamentally adjusting the way we work and defining success according to “wellbeing”, we’ll chase something more significant than a career measured by long hours and the projects we complete for an employer.

This second wave could also have us considering issues bigger than ourselves and those we know. Already, we’re seeing the benefits of collective wisdom and power, how through social media we can learn and react to the plight of women everywhere. The women who’ve pioneered and captured the key leadership positions of the past are fast becoming spokespeople for a future that better considers the economic benefits of a worldwide shift to ending discrimination and inequality, and eliminating violence against girls and women everywhere.

6 Habits of Remarkably Likable People

They’re charming. They’re genuine. And they can make an entire room full of people smile.  Here’s how they do it:

They lose the power pose.

They embrace the power of touch.

They whip out their social jiu-jitsu.

They whip out something genuine.

They ask for nothing.

They “close” genuinely.

And they accept it isn’t easy.

When you help people feel a little better about themselves – which is reason enough – they’ll like you for it.

And you’ll like yourself a little more, too…

Engaged Employees Volunteer Their Hearts, Minds, & Imaginations

How would you define great employee engagement?

What do you want it to be?

“We rent people’s hands and their backs, but they volunteer their hearts, their minds and their imaginations.”  So the question is when will people do that and when will they not? They won’t do it if they don’t believe in what you are doing. They won’t do it if they don’t believe they are being appreciated for what they do. They won’t do it if they don’t feel as though everybody else is putting forth a good effort. And they won’t do it if they feel their managers are not helping them. People engage when they believe in a purpose, feel appreciated, and have the environment to succeed.
The best and brightest talent, as well as customers, will gravitate to the organisations with the boldest promise with a robust reputation of delivering upon their engagement promise…

New Research

The Employee Power-Up’s Happiness Edge

People who feel powerful are happier, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science. Researchers found that authenticity is what connects that relationship between power and “subjective well-being”, or happiness. When you have power, your behavior can align more closely with your desires and values so that you are free to be more authentic. And when you can go about your day being more true to yourself, you feel happier…

If you’ve ever had a job that made you feel miserable — from sheer boredom, workplace abuse, having to stay in the office with nothing to do, or having to stay in the office with way too much to do — you are probably familiar with the feeling of powerlessness over the situation. Unfortunately, that kind of misery and disillusionment is startlingly common, with 70% of workers who were “not engaged” or even “actively disengaged” in their work, according to a 2012 Gallup poll.

For those of you who feel powerless at work, it’s a tough battle. Brainstorm some ways you can gain a sense of control and autonomy. Ask if you can be in charge of a minor project, lead some presentations, or start a new initiative. Round up some research on productivity to argue for a more flexible schedule. Go over and around supervisors and bosses who are overbearing or dismissive to someone (with power) who will listen to how you feel and what you want to do.

If you’re planning on sticking around, fight for your small corner by finding a path toward authenticity, autonomy, and power, and fulfillment. To thine own self, be a little truer.

Seeing Happiness In Facial Expressions, Instead Of Anger, Can Lessen Aggression

How you perceive emotions in others can have a real impact on how you feel yourself, according to a new study.

The new research, published in the journal Psychological Science, shows that training people to be biased to recognise happiness instead of anger in a facial expression can help to lower their own feelings of aggression and anger.

Last year, a study in the same journal showed that a happy facial expression – specifically, a genuine smile – can help to decrease stress by lowering heart rate after a tense event.

Happiness & Wellbeing

The Age of Wellbeing

Context is everything…

New research with thousands of people over 30 years found that while individuals did tend to experience greater wellbeing as they aged baseline levels of wellbeing were different for different age groups. What these researchers believe this shows is a response to the context that each generation grew up in.

So, for example, generations who grew up during the depression era of the 1930s shows substantially lower baseline levels of wellbeing compared to people who grew up during more prosperous times like the 1960s. All of that of course begs the question, what will the baseline wellbeing be for people who are growing into adulthood during post-GFC times of economic uncertainty? Maybe we need to do more than ponder this and as a society intervene to ensure that the wellbeing of this current generation and all generations is all that it possibly can be.

The Pursuit of Happiness: Self-Improvement

We don’t eat well, we don’t sleep well, and we don’t exercise. We rely on junk food and alcohol for entertainment and satiety. We have no free time, no health, and no peace of mind.

Who do you think is richer, actually truly richer? Who do you think is happier and more content? Who do you think leads a higher standard of living? The hospitality guy and the masseur, or us?

Kartikeya Dwivedi thinks they are. And here’s what he suggests we can do about changing things for the better…

The 4 Happiness Archetypes: Which One Are You?

In this 5-minute video, Philosopher’s Notes author, Brian Johnson, looks at a model developed by Tal Ben-Shahar (former Harvard professor, author and expert on positive psychology and leadership), that demonstrates how to be happier by embracing goals we consider to be important, while taking pleasure in the journey.


Never, Ever Give Up. Arthur’s Inspirational Transformation!

A truly inspirational video of resilience in action.

How Volatility Boosts Career Resilience: Small Fires Prevent A Big Burn

Today’s world is full of change and unpredictable disruption. Unless you take frequent, contained risks, you are setting yourself up for a major dislocation at some point in the future. Inoculating yourself to big risks requires taking small, regular risks—it’s like doing controlled burns in a forest. By introducing regular volatility into your career, you make surprise survivable.

In his inaugural post on LinkedIn, Jack Welch said there are three keys to success: authenticity, resilience, and the ability to see around corners (“to anticipate the radically unexpected”). I’m with him on the first two, but in fact, ironically, the precise reason resilience matters is because it’s impossible to see around corners. The future is unknowable. Resilience means being able to adapt in the face of a surprising setback.

Pretending you can avoid risk by perfectly predicting the future lulls you into a dangerously fragile life pattern, leaving you exposed to a huge blow-up in the future. When you’re resilient, you can play for big opportunities with less worry about the possible consequences of unanticipated hiccups. For the start-up of you, the only long-term answer to risk is resilience.

Remember: If you don’t find risk, risk will eventually find you.

Why You’re Stronger Than You Think

…when adversity strikes, a significant number of us are going to feel bad. We’re going to feel scared, depressed, and anxious. But those feelings need not paralyze us. Nor does their presence necessarily limit our ability to manage such adversity in the long run.

Yet the even the most powerful ideas for generating resilience will remain ineffective if we only read about them but do nothing to put them into practice. But that’s exactly what I want to encourage everyone to do who is struggling. And remember that when adversity strikes, your ability to predict the future may be terrible but your ability tocreate it is far greater than you suppose.

Resilience – A Key To Happiness

Failing to do well at studies or work, an enterprise that fails to take off and instead lands you in debt, a debilitating illness, or losing a loved one – all of these are part and parcel of life and if you do not want these to turn you into a nervous wreck, it is vital you put such disappointments in perspective.

Resilience is a quality that is a combination of several things – a positive attitude, the ability to discriminate between right and wrong, the strength to do what is difficult without giving in to impulses, and the ability to believe in yourself and your abilities. Here are a few tips on how you can build resilience…


Are You (Subconsciously) Afraid of Success?

Have you ever found yourself on the verge of a big success, and noticed things starting to go wrong?It begins with a feeling of agitation. The tiniest details irritate you. Reliable people start making alarming mistakes.“What’s up with them? Can’t they see how important this is? Why are they being so careless?”

So what can you do about it?

Sometimes all you need to do is “out” the fear by admitting to yourself that you are, in fact, afraid. Paradoxically, it can have the effect of helping you relax.

“OK, I’m nervous, which is pretty normal considering what’s at stake.”

(Deep breath)

“Right, what’s next?”

And sometime it helps to focus on exactly what you’re afraid of, and find a way to deal with the threat. Here are three classic versions of fear of success, and what to do about them…


For Students (And All of Us!) The First Priority Must Be Sleep

Research keeps pouring out about the importance of sleep. Inadequate sleep is implicated in anxiety, depression, other emotional disorders, attention issues, unhealthy weight gain and poor cognition.

And sleep is essential to learning, because the material we learn during the day needs to be processed during sleep. All that studying is counter-productive we are staying up too late to then “sleep on it” and let the information sink in.

Here are a few suggestions for making enough sleep happen, for older folk just as much for those people in formal study…


4 Powerful Words Employees Need to Hear

There are lots of ways to make a positive impact on your staff. But the best involves four simple words: “Can you help me?”

When you need help–no matter the kind of help you need or the person you need it from–take the bass out of your voice and the stiffness out of your spine and the captain out of your industry and just say, with sincerity and humility, “Can you help me?”

When you ask that way several powerful things immediately occur–especially for the other person…

The 3 Leadership Behaviors That Make Your Employees Feel Fulfilled

…while exactly what will make individuals at different companies feel happy and fulfilled at work may vary there are a few golden rules that work across the board.

1. Recognize even routine jobs.

2. Reward outstanding work.

3. Understand what really matters to your employees.

What Bosses Should Be Looking For

“You can teach skill but you can’t teach character.”

Here are a couple of suggestions for hiring;

1) Stop looking for the right person for the job.

Rather than looking to see if the person could do the job or not try looking the person’s values and character. No doubt that it is important to find someone who is capable of the tasks at hand but what is more important is if the person is right for the organisation.  A great question to ask yourself before hiring someone is “what kind of impact do I want the person in this position to have on our culture?”

 2) Interview for potential not qualifications.

Employers should be asking questions that elicit the individual’s strengths, character, and process by which they solve problems. Ask questions like “How do you feel you still need to develop personally?” or “How do you experiment?” This allows the person to share more deeply about who they are, what their values are, and what they hope to accomplish in this lifetime.


Creativity – the challenge of defining, developing and assessing it

OECD Creativity Prototyle Assessment Tool 2

Creativity is defined as one of the four 4Cs of  Learning and Innovation in 21st Century learning.  AnOECD Creativity working paperprovides a prototype assessment tool that aims to break down Creativity into 5 main dispositions and then divides these dispositions into 3 sub-habits…

Maybe you’d like to try and use this to assess your own creativity levels now, and perhaps set some new aims for becoming more creative based on your self-assessment…?

9 Ways To Light Your Creativity ON FIRE

“When you are totally out of luck and feeling incredibly down, how do you spark that creativity up so you can get going again?”

Here are James Altucher’s 9 tips to get creative right now…

1. Turn Upside Down

2. List Options

3. Combine Ideas

4. Use New technology

5. Connect People

6. Make Something

7. Leave

8. Virtually Leave

9. Seek Help


Gift of Grandparents (Steve McCurry’s Blog)

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  
Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. 

(Alex Haley)

The Life of Things (Steve McCurry’s Blog)

But the still life resides in absolute silence.  

(Mark Doty, ‘Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy’)

More sublime photos from Steve McCurry that teach us something more about what it is to be human…


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