Here are some of the highlights you will find in
News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.
In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.
Whingeing luvvies are easily mocked but it just doesn’t make sense to give way to this purblind, anti-cultural bias, writes Polly Toynbee in The Guardian
A reason to be cheerful: Britain is exceptionally good at some things. With a dead economy, a million young people kicking their heels, exports anaemic and worse cuts to come, hope itself can look hopeless. So what would you do? Analyse what we do best and invest in our talents to the hilt. In that great broad envelope labelled “arts and culture”, we are among the world’s engines of invention.
That’s why a cultural Olympiad ran alongside all the running, jumping and cycling. In sport, state investment paid off in medals. In the arts, state investment can be counted out in gold too: better still, it infuses everything that brings pleasure. Only life under the Taliban is untouched by music, storytelling and eye-opening imagery, broadcast or live, designed into everything around us. Culture is not something apart but breathed into all of civilisation. When we are all dead and gone, culture is all that will be left – as a visit to the British Museum will confirm.
This week saw the deadline for ministers to make their final pitch before the axe falls in June’s comprehensive spending review. By rule of thumb, each department can expect a 5.2% cut, (except the NHS, schools and aid). That is a mighty crunch for any ministry, but the one with the smallest budget would be struck hardest. Of the £700bn the government spends, the Department for Media, Culture & Sport‘s budget is a minuscule £2.2bn, and already suffering a 43% cut. Deep scars will be left by this government’s anti-culture bias. The sums are so paltry that the animus seems deliberate. But luvvies whingeing are easily mocked when dementia patients are neglected, so how can the case be best made?
On Saturday the Brighton festival opens – three weeks of eclectic theatre, music, dance, comedy, literature and visual arts…We can show how the festival brings in at least £20m to Brighton, but no one can compute its true value to its reputation or the pleasure it gives. So there’s a reason to be cheerful – for now.
As for the future, what might persuade this government of the value of the arts – financial and spiritual – is a loud public demand that our cultural assets, live and broadcast, are not squandered…
Happiness At Work
A recent joint job happiness survey from Yahoo Finance and PARADE magazine finds that almost 60 percent of 26,000 workers in the United States were so unhappy with their current jobs that they would prefer to choose a new career.
This dissatisfaction is causing a voluntary exodus of employees from a tight job market, where you’d expect the opposite. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 2 million Americans each month are flying the coop—leaving their positions—despite the high unemployment rate. And the number is continuing to increase.
To help get to the bottom of your office malaise, consider these strategies to become happier at work:
- Avoid the negative ~ There’s nothing more demoralizing than negative talk at the office, so avoid it as much as you can…
- Seek perks ~ there is a reason why companies that offer additional incentives like flexible, relaxed work environments face fewer employee complaints than companies that don’t—their employees are happier…
- Confront the slackers ~ 93% people work with someone who is not carrying their weight, but only 10% confront that person. Suspend judgement and get curious, enter into conversations to find out more…
- Examine your drives ~ three common needs are for accomplishment, autonomy and good relationships. Evaluate what you need and find what you can do to get it…
- And if none of this works – go solo ~ entrepreneurs tend to feel better about their career than office workers because if you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work…
A month ago, I started really focusing on people who are happy at work. Everywhere I go, I pay attention to who is around me. And, I am documenting those who appear to be happy in their workplace.
How can we – and any of us – achieve happiness at work?
We can begin by believing that it is possible. In fact, we can begin by believing it IS (a fact, a truth, ‘reality’). As long as we believe that our reality is that we have the kind of job at which happiness is an illusion, we’ll continue to create that experience for ourselves. We’ll be oblivious to the opportunity for happiness that is present around us every day…
For work to be meaningful, it is the employee who must label it so.
Meaningful work is employees’ perceived positive value of what they are doing. It’s a source of joy in their overall life. In the words of Max Depree, “[it’s] maturing, enriching, and fulfilling, healing, and joyful.”
Here is our adaptation of these 11 essentials that go toward making our work feel meaningful:
- Basic needs are met
- Work is perceived to be fulfilling
- Seeing clear connections seen own work fits and the bigger picture
- Feeling included – informed and in on things
- Feeling respected by peers and managers
- Feeling valued by organisation and managers
- Being able to regularly play to your strengths
- Deepening self awareness & personal mastery
- Strong united team relationships and helping others to flourish
- Balanced autonomy (independence) and collaboration (interdependence)
- Efforts and accomplishments are recognised
Following years of rigorous research carried out worldwide, led by Jessica Pryce-Jones and her in-house research department at iOpener Institute, the world of work is awakening to the reality of the research findings; that our happiness at work determines our performance. This research has been well documented in the press, most notably in the Wall Street Journal which has twice invited its readers to take the Happiness at Work survey – the iPPQ – boosting our global database considerably.
This unprecedented understanding of the tangible link between happiness and performance at work requires an understanding of the Performance Happiness Model™
There are five drivers / factors of happiness at work. We call these the 5Cs:
Contribution is about the effort you make,
Conviction is about your short-term motivation,
Culture is about your sense of organisational fit,
Commitment is about your engagement with your role, and
Confidence is about your level of self-belief at work and how your current job fits your career trajectory.
If all of the 5Cs are working well, you will feel that you are Achieving Your Potential at work, which sits at the core of the Model.
Interview of the Day: “Even a moderate increase in happiness at work improves the bottom line by 20%”
Alexander Kjerulf AKA The Chief Happiness Officer is the founder of Woohoo inc and one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work
How important is happiness at workplace?
Happiness at work is the most important success factor for businesses, and has a huge impact on the bottom line. One study showed that even a moderate increase in happiness at work improved the bottom line by 20%. Another study showed that the happiest companies are three times as profitable as regular businesses.
Also happiness at work is one of the main sources of happiness in life, so it also has a huge effect on employees. In fact, being unhappy at work can not only make you unhappy in life, it can also make you sick and ultimately kill you.
What are the ways and means by which employees can be happy at work?
If you do not know who Alexander Kjerulf is, then you have been missing out. Alexander is one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work and is also the founder of Woohoo inc. His company, Woohoo has a simple philosophy: happy companies make more money.
Earlier this year in March, Alexander traveled to Boston University to share his wisdom about differences between workplace happiness in Europe (Denmark) and the United States. We recommend you watch (or listen during work) Kjerulf’s lecture! Inspiring words that we should all be living by.
- Arbejdsglaede (ah-bites-gleh-the): translates in Scandinavian to Workhappiness. This word does not exist in any other culture.
- ANYONE can be happy at work. ANYONE.
- Research shows that a raise, bonus and promotions make employees happy for only about two weeks before returning to the original state.
- Kjerulf believes happiness at work is derived from two factors: creating meaningful results, achievements (feeling like you made a difference) AND having good relationships.
Most of the time, we build our jobs and our organisations and our lives around today, assuming that tomorrow will be a lot like now. Resilience, the ability to shift and respond to change, comes way down the list of the things we often consider.
And yet… A crazy world is certain to get crazier. The industrial economy is fading, and steady jobs with it. The financial markets will inevitably get more volatile. The Earth is warming, ever faster, and the rate and commercial impact of natural disasters around the world is on an exponential growth curve.
Hence the need for resilience, for the ability to survive and thrive in the face of change.
The choice is to build something that’s perfect for today, or to build something that lasts. Because perfect for today no longer means perfect forever.
Here are four approaches to resilience, in ascending order, from brave to stupid:
- Don’t need it
- Invest in a network
- Create backups
- Build a moat
The opposite of depression is not happiness, according to Peter Kramer, author of“Against Depression” and“Listening to Prozac,” it is resilience: the ability to cope with life’s frustrations without falling apart.
The tools found in happiness research are those Therese J. Borchard practiced in her recovery from depression and anxiety: “even though, theoretically, I can be happy and depressed at the same time. I came up with my own recovery programme that coincides with the steps toward happiness published in positive psychology studies, involving…”
- Relationships and Community
Physical fitness is known to reduce anxiety,depression, and other stress-related conditions, but it’s notoriously difficult to motivate oneself to move when already down in the dumps, or if one just hates exercise.
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder used an animal model to investigate whether forced exercise can yield the same mood resilience as voluntary exercise.
The results showed that both voluntary and forced exercise helped rats avoid the behavioural results of uncontrollable stress. Being in good shape allowed them to learn how to escape from electric shocks instead of succumbing to learned helplessness, while the sedentary rats were far more likely to lie there and accept the shocks.
“Regardless of whether the rats chose to run or were forced to run they were protected against stress and anxiety,” said Greenwood in a news release.
Rat brains and human brains don’t work in exactly the same ways, but the UC-Boulder team believes they are similar enough to draw tentative conclusions from this study.
It’s tempting to think that you need the tropical beach, the hammock by the lake, the walk in the woods, the yoga retreat or the special meditation cushion in order to feel the “ahhhhh” of inner peace. We all have certain props or places that we use to jump start that special sensation of anchored contentment.
But what if, like the witches and wizards of Hogwarts, you could be transported to a place of peace whenever you want? What if your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and fingertips were actually portkeys to mindfulness and that feeling of deep inner stillness and peace? Mindfulness is the ancient art of attentive awareness to your present circumstances. Going to that place of mindfulness can produce a feeling of calm and contentment. When you use these shortcuts every day, calm and serenity quickly become your home…
Designer James Victore writes in a new 99U book Manage Your Day-to-Day:
We have become so trusting of technology that we have lost faith in ourselves and our born instincts. There are still parts of life that we do not need to “better” with technology. It’s important to understand that you are smarter than your smartphone. To paraphrase, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your Google. Mistakes are a part of life and often the path to profound new insights—so why try to remove them completely? Getting lost while driving or visiting a new city used to be an adventure and a good story. Now we just follow the GPS.
To “know thyself” is hard work. Harder still is to believe that you, with all your flaws, are enough…
It is only with age that you acquire the gift to evaluate decay, the epiphany of Wordsworth,
the wisdom of wabi-sabi: nothing is perfect, nothing is complete, nothing lasts.
– Paul Theroux
Bring the Happy was created by Invisible Flock in collaboration with Hope and Social.Bring the Happy is an ongoing large scale project about happiness, at the heart of it is an attempt to map the moments and memories of happiness of the UK and beyond.
We will be taking over empty shop units throughout the country and filling them with giant maps of our host cities.
We will be asking you to come and visit us and leave us a moment or memory of happiness that has taken place anywhere in your city, telling us:
what it was – where it took place – and how happy it made you on a scale of 1-10
Each memory is then marked onto the map with its own 3D rod, the height of which is based on the 1-10 rating.
Bring the Happy originally took place for two months in Leeds back in 2010, when we took up residence in an empty shop in the Light Shopping Centre before later moving to Leeds’ Kirkgate Market.
What emerged was not simply stories about happiness or wellbeing, but a portrait of the city, the lives entwined within it; first loves, lifetime regrets, personal and political grievances, births, marriages, deaths, drunken nights, wartime stories, snow stories, market stories, dances, chance encounters, life changing moments and buildings long gone and more often than not memories that spoke of home…