Happiness At Work collection #52 ~ some highlights

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Vivienne Harris

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Vivienne Harris

Here are just some of the stories that you can find in this week’s collection:

Two Degrees: Imagine The Great Transition

Artsadmin and LIFT in association with nef, as part of the Imagine 2020 Network.

Are we trapped in business-as-usual?

Could the ‘less’ make us happier than the ‘more’?

What do we really value?

Can it still turn out right?

 A series of artist films that respond to these questions…



George Lucas, John Lithgow, and Other Luminaries on How the Humanities Make Us Human


In her superb 2013 McGill commencement address, philosopher Judith Butler championed the value of the humanities as a tool of tolerance. And yet the humanities have slipped into endangered academic species status — so says a major new plea of a report titled to Congress from the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, titled The Heart of the Matter, which opens with a sense of unequivocal urgency:

“As we strive to create a more civil public discourse, a more adaptable and creative workforce, and a more secure nation, the humanities and social sciences are the heart of the matter, the keeper of the republic — a source of national memory and civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment and the ideals we hold in common. They are critical to a democratic society and they require our support.”

Accompanying the report is this beautiful short film, a collection of luminaries’ testimonials for the value and immeasurable impact of the humanities both in our individual journey toward understanding the meaning of life and our collective odyssey toward better understanding one another and our place in the universe. Selected highlights here…

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona

How To Be A Successful Optimist

by Mark Stevenson

It’s easy to accept the standard story of the future: that it’s all going to be rubbish, that vested interests will always win out and the best you can do is get your head down, try and beat the prevailing trend and do what you can for you and yours (even if it’s at the expense of your fellow man and the environment).

Luckily there are enough human beings out there who don’t accept this story, who believe things can change for the better and crucially do something about it. Without their input down the ages we’d all still be sitting in caves. Throughout history these, often maligned, men and women have consistently come up trumps for the rest of us. These people are called “optimists.”

Optimism is a bit of a dirty word at the moment, and of course blind optimism (that dangerous cocktail of denial and hope) deserves our disdain. But pragmatic optimists, who admit the scale of the challenges ahead of us but resolve to do something about them anyway, should have more of our support.

It’s not always easy to keep optimistic…

How To Be A Successful Optimist: Principle No. 2

…A recurring question philosopher Daniel Dennett (and probably most philosophers) get confronted with is, “What’s the definition of happiness?

Luckily he has an answer and it’s a good one: “Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it”.

This then is Principle Two for the successful optimist. All successful optimists have a project that is bigger than they are. By contrast, people who have a project that is the same size as themselves are invariably miserable and tedious company. Once you’ve got a bigger car/ nicer house/ television bigger than God what’s left? As so many find out, eventually the answer is a nagging emptiness accompanied by the thought, “Surely there must be more to life than this?

Those with something bigger than themselves generally derive a deep-in-the-core happiness from whatever that is. It’s a happiness that comes from a feeling you have a place in the world. A ‘bigger than me’ project can be your family, your religion, military service or a scientific calling…

Mark Stevenson is the author of An Optimist’s Tour of the Future (Profile Books, 2012). Check out the School of Life course, The Future is Up for Grabs with Mark Stevenson on 17th Septemeber 2013.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona

Falling short: seven writers reflect on failure

, and  reflect on their own disappointments in life, love and work…

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona

Self-Discipline Can Lead to Happiness, Study Reports


The study found a correlation between self-restraint and control and overall happiness. It concluded that self-control should not be considered self-deprivation but rather, time management of goals and tasks…

“People who have good self-control do a number of things that bring them happiness – namely, they avoid problematic desires and conflict”…

Do You Really Know What Makes You Happy?

By Gretchen Rubin

Research shows that many people are miserable at their jobs. Given how much of your life is spent working, finding happiness at work is key. But how do you get started? Gretchen Rubin, who wrote the book on happiness — literally and is AOL Jobs newest contributor, addresses that topic here. 

One key to a happy life is self-knowledge. I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature. I’ve found that the more my life reflects my real interests, values, and temperament, the happier I become.

But it’s very hard to know ourselves; it’s easy to be distracted by the way we wish we were, or think we ought to be, or what others think we should be, until we lose sight of what’s actually true…

Here is a list of 20 questions meant to help you think about yourself, your daily habits, your nature, and your interests. There are no right or wrong answers; they’re fodder for reflection…

What is the Best Predictor of Unhappiness?

by Alex Mayyasi

Psychologists armed with statistically significant survey data have a lot of advice on how to be happy, but we don’t seem to be very good at following it.

Interesting that a major contributor to being unhappy is a long commute!  What about money?  What about being married??  This article answers them all…

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona

The 5 Ps of professional happiness

by Jay Shepherd

In this short talk (just six minutes) at the LexThink Conference in Chicago, I explain why unhappiness abounds in the legal world. Then I give five simple steps for fixing it. And this advice doesn’t just apply to lawyers; any professional or creative person can use them to find happiness at work. So take six minutes and watch.  See if it can help you find your own professional happiness…

Career Change Advice – How To Be Happy At Work

By Aaron

The reasons of discontent at work are many and unique as you change careers. Change is the only solution to such discontent. The following points should be of great benefit to you and guide you through this process.

  • Change your perspective…
  • Change your environment…
  • Change your career…
  • Change your influence circle…
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona

Why Grumpy People Can Be Super Productive


If you’re waiting for the “right mood” to strike before you attack that stack of work, you might be waiting a looooooooonnnnnnng time.

When we say that we’re “waiting for the right time” to start on something, we tend to mean that we want to feel good about what we’re doing–but new research suggests that a pinch of negativity can actually be a creative spark.

How so? Creativity, as we know, is both an emotional and intellectual process: Psychologists have found that positive emotions open up your inventory of possible actions–one of the many reasons that it’s good to feel good. But, as new research in the Academy of Management Journal suggests, it’s good to feel bad, too–depending on how you roll through the day…

Time to think differently

More diverse leadership is business critical in a complex environment, says Lubna Haq, director at Hay Group.

The current era of globalisation, slow growth, e-commerce, social media, big data and an ageing workforce requires new ways of working: ways that are more flexible, open, inclusive, collaborative and innovative than ever before.

In response, many organisations are dismantling their old, command-and-control leadership structures in favour of new, matrix-style roles. These carry much more accountability, but benefit from far less formal authority.

Leaders are therefore being forced to operate in a vast white space with just a handful of direct reports. To succeed in this context they need to be adept at collaborating with, influencing and quickly gaining the trust of their teams and peers.

This new environment calls for both a more sophisticated and a more subtle approach to leadership: one which Hay Group data suggests women may be better able to adopt.

Hay Group’s research over many years has found that great female leaders employ a wider range of leadership styles than their male counterparts, enabling them to be more effective at motivating and engaging people to perform.

They are also more skilled at knowing how and when to use which style…

How managers can improve the quality of feedback they offer


New research about happinessunderscores the point. In an experiment, employees at a number of Fortune 500 companies were sent a daily email inquiring about their level of happiness. Some received the question worded this way: “How happy were you today?” Others got this version: “Did you do your best to be happy today?” Over time, the latter group reported a significantly higher level of happiness, because they came to see it as a goal for which they were personally responsible.

What would happen if you ask yourself each day: “Did I make a point to give and receive some valuable feedback today?” You’d be upgrading all three facets of high impact feedback — the source, the content and the recipient…

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona


How Can We Solve The Employee Disengagement Problem?


“Aren’t people curious about how you manage to create tens of millions of disaffected employees?  That’s not a trivial accomplishment.”

Recently, Mark Crowley reported on the results of the Gallup organization’s annual employee engagement survey. He painted a humorous, but compelling picture of the results, “… imagine a crew team out on the Potomac River where three people are rowing their hearts out, five are taking in the scenery, and two are trying to sink the boat.”…

Taylor’s philosophy made the manager responsible for all problem-solving. It sounds very much like our contemporary mindset, where for every organizational problem the answer is generally a new management task. With the best of intentions, solutions offered for employee disengagement depend on the manager “doing” for the employee. Without intending to, we may keep reinforcing a system that deprives employees of proper credit for their own capacity for self-management and independent problem-solving. Equally, we make unfair demands on managers who have been, more than likely, trained to play leadership roles, but were not developed to be leaders.

The better model would be one in which the responsibility for making work feel vital, motivating, and personally important is a task equally shared by everyone no matter what their title.

When so much management advice seems to come down to “treat employees like adult human beings” you have to wonder. Why do people need to be told that? If they’re not doing that, what are they doing? The fact that managers even need that advice and advice-givers seem to think it’s necessary to give may provide us with some additional insight into the origins of disengagement…

Vivian Giang, Business Insider

It’s the entrepreneurial age and everyone wants to work for themselves. By 2025, Gen Y is going to make up 75% of the global workforce, and these millennials’ independent-thinking and entrepreneurial mindset is going to change everything about the way companies are run…

Gen Y has a need to “solve the world’s problems” and if companies want to keep talent in their organizations, they need to clearly communicate long-term company goals with their hardworking and inspired workers…

Companies that employ a decent number of young people should support this independent thinking ability by developing entrepreneurial programs. Allowing workers to do this also increases loyalty, because employees know you care about their happiness and well-being. In the end, they will work harder for you, because you’ve allowed them time to work on something they care about.

In short, the typical 9-to-5 grind is on its way out and …“it’s going to be less about who you work for, but who you’re working with.”

Why 20% Time is Good for Schools


 20% time allows students to pick their own project and learning outcomes, while still hitting all the standards and skills for their grade level. In fact, these students often go “above and beyond” their standards by reaching for a greater depth of knowledge than most curriculum tends to allow. The idea for 20% time in schools comes from Google’s own 20% policy, where employees are given twenty percent of their time to work and innovate on something else besides their current project. It’s been very successful in business practice, and now we can say that it has been wildly successful in education practice.

With 20% time, we can solve one society’s biggest problems by giving students a purpose for learning and a conduit for their passions and interests. If you listen to Sir Ken Robinson or Daniel Pink talk, you’ll discover this is an issue that starts with schooling. We spend 14,256 hours in school between kindergarten and graduation. If we can’t find a time for students to have some choice in their learning, then what are we doing with all those hours? …

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona

Steve McCurry’s Blog: When Things Come Alive

when words fade and things come alive.
When the destructive analysis of day is done, and
all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again.
When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

More stunning photos from this master artist showing us into a new range of impressions of the human life force…

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013

Designed by Sou Fujimoto

Until 20 October 2013

Describing his design concept, Sou Fujimoto said:

“For the 2013 Pavilion I propose an architectural landscape: a transparent terrain that encourages people to interact with and explore the site in diverse ways. Within the pastoral context of Kensington Gardens, I envisage the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life woven together with a constructed geometry. A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two…

The delicate quality of the structure, enhanced by its semi-transparency, will create a geometric, cloud-like form, as if it were mist rising from the undulations of the park. From certain vantage points, the Pavilion will appear to merge with the classical structure of the Serpentine Gallery, with visitors suspended in space.” …

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto  Photo by: Mark Trezona

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Photo by: Mark Trezona

For more stories see this week’s full collection:

Happiness At Work #52


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