Happiness At Work #53 ~ highlights in this collection

Photo: Sue Ridge www.sueridge.com

Photo: Sue Ridge
http://www.sueridge.com

In this week’s headlines, several articles report new findings that show the importance of continuous learning at every stage of our lives to keep our brains fit and healthy, especially in our older years…

Reading, writing may help preserve memory in older age

By MICHELLE CASTILLO

A study published on July 3 in Neurology revealed that reading, writing and doing other mentally-stimulating activities at every age helped stave off memory problems.

“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” study author Robert S. Wilson, senior neuropsychologist of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a press release…

Top 14 ways to increase your IQ

14 ways to increase your IQ and improve the way in which your brain functions.

1. Walk Around the Block

2. Take Deep Breaths...

3. Keep a Journal…

4.  Explore New Things…

5. Take Frequent Short Breaks…

6. Improve Your Memory…One of the best ways to remember information is by using acronyms…

7. Eat breakfast...

8. Use Your Body to Help You Learn. Movement is a key part of the process of development and learning… Brain Gym exercises can help with things such as:

  • Comprehension
  • Concentration
  • Abstract Thinking
  • Memory
  • Mental Fatigue
  • Completing tasks…

9. Meditate…

10. Stay Away From Sugar

11. Cultivate Your Emotional Intelligence…

12. Use Downtime…

13. Engage All of Your Senses.  Researchers have found that the human brain learns best through multi-sensory association…

14. Load Up on Antioxidants

Not The Same Old Garden Path – How We Can Literally Think Differently

 by William A. Donius.

As we age, neuroscientists tell us, our thoughts and patterns become more ingrained. The way our brains process, sort and ultimately respond to questions is akin to taking the same path through the garden over and over.

We get to know the path very well, and it becomes familiar to us. As long as the problems we face are familiar, so are our approaches to solving these problems. We are in our intellectual “comfort zones.” …

When we’re asked to think differently, we’re essentially being asked to take a path through the proverbial garden we’ve never taken before. It’s a bit uncomfortable, for we’re no longer in familiar territory. If asked to deviate too far from our comfort zone, we may even experience a mild panic.

How, then, do we break out of our intransigent ways of thinking? Research demonstrates that we can indeed learn to think differently…

The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should)

ALAN HENRY

You’ve seen inspirational quotes that encourage you to get out and do something strange—something you wouldn’t normally do—but getting out of your routine just takes so much work. There’s actually a lot of science that explains why it’s so hard to break out of your comfort zone, and why it’s good for you when you do it. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and do great things…

Outside your comfort zone can be a good place to be, as long as you don’t tip the scales too far. It’s important to remember there’s a difference between the kind of controlled anxiety we’re talking about and the very real anxiety that many people struggle with every day. Everyone’s comfort zone is different, and what may expand your horizons may paralyze someone else. Remember, optimal anxiety can bring out your best, but too much is a bad thing.

Here are some ways to break out (and by proxy, expand) your comfort zone without going too far…

BY: 

Researchers found that the stress induced by running prevents the activation of new neurons in response to stress, at least in sedentary mice. Can exercise make you stronger in your ability to handle stress –less sensitive to the stresses of daily life? …

A research team based at Princeton University has found that physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function…

Why Neuroscience Matters To You

 writes:

The reality is that we are humans, period. If we think we can separate our humanity from our career – we’re only fooling ourselves. We bring all of our humanity to bear on behaviors and decisions in our lives, careers and families. So why not learn what makes us humans “tick” so that we can be better at everything we do? That makes more sense to me than trying to shut down our humanity – which we can’t do anyway.

Since I started studying practices such as neural linguistic programming, quantum biology, quantum mechanics and more, I’ve learned so much about how and why we think and behave as we do – especially the seemingly irrational decisions

and behaviors. For example, did you know that:

    • Our unconscious mind directs ~ 95% of our behaviors and decisions…
    • We’re programmed to hang onto the status quo until we see that the status quo as being unsafe…
  • We also have a program called the herd instinct…

There are many other programs that drive our lives. Finally, we know the truth. Life really is all in our minds!

Here are three steps to begin to upgrade your mindware. Try them for a month and you will see a change!

  • Ask questions instead of making statements...
  • Make the status quo unsafe. ..
  • Step away from the herd…

What if you could upgrade every program that bounds your perceptions and your potential? What if you could see new and exciting choices about everything in your life? What would you rewrite? …

10 Ways to Find Your Own Personal Strengths

BY 

Our personal strengths are part of what makes us unique as individuals, and part of the value we offer to the world around us. If we’re not aware of our personal strengths, however, we don’t always utilize them as fully as we could, and we potentially miss out on true fulfilment in our lives and careers.

In this post, you’ll discover 10 ways to find your personal strengths. You might find that some of the methods below are more effective for you than others, so cherry-pick the techniques that resonate…

5 ways to boost your career with happiness

In this hilarious and insightful speech, Rowan Manahan explains that happiness at work (in Danish: arbejdsglaede) is not a pipe dream but the best way to get your dream job, boost your career and become more successful.

Why don’t people pay a little more attention (and a whole lot more respect!) to their own happiness — and what happens when they do?

Rowan argues that this is the next evolutionary leap that mankind will make and has some simple, practical, and actionable steps that you can take to come out of the Dark Ages in your working life and into the Age of Enlightenment…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WXCUbzENws&list=PL5ZAXgmtneq76e606oDFfbZk3q7ihFu8I&feature=player_embedded

The global happiness research aiming to make the world smile (and live longer)

Psychologist Ed Diener is considered to be the foremost expert on the science of happiness. The Smiley Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois (named after Joseph R Smiley, not the expression), Professor Diener studies happiness on a global scale as a senior scientist with the Gallup Organisation.

Gallup’s World Poll investigates international levels of happiness through a huge worldwide study, which Professor Diener describes as ‘the first representative sample of humanity’.

The survey encompasses over a million people from 160 countries (unfortunately the Vatican and North Korea didn’t make the cut).

‘We’ve learned a great deal about the universals,’ Professor Diener says. ‘We find for example that basic needs like having enough food are important across the world—that’s not surprising. But we also find social things [are important] like being respected and being able to trust other people.’ …

His happiness research over the years has uncovered some interesting trends, including work he’s done with the father of positive psychology Martin Seligman on what it takes to be extremely happy.

‘We looked at like the top 5%, the really, really happy people.  And we found one universal that applied to all of them and that is they all had close, supportive relationships, people who would really step up and help them and go to bat for them.’ …

‘Happy people are healthier, they have more friends and better social relationships, they are better citizens and they are even more productive at work. We know this by doing lots of kind of studies—one is we get happiness ratings from young people in young adulthood and we follow them over time and we find out that years later the happy people live longer, the happy people get sick less.’

‘Their immune system is stronger; we see that certain cardiovascular parameters are healthier.  So we know both from experimental studies and from longitudinal studies that it’s causal that happiness is making people better off.’

Professor Deiner believes that while some are born happier than others, everyone can alter their level of happiness…

The Latest Findings on Workplace Happiness

This past weekend some of the top social scientists in the world gathered to present the latest research on human flourishing and well-being. More than a thousand people packed an L.A. hotel to listen to luminaries such as Martin Seligman and Barbara Fredrickson dissect empirical findings on what it means to be happy. Literally hundreds of papers were presented in a variety of forums, and my goal was to sift through them and bring you a few nuggets on work and happiness

…looking to find places where positive psychology produces business results is not easy. In more than five years of studying and writing about happiness and work, I have yet to come across the randomized, controlled, large-scale study that establishes once and for all the causal connection between workplace happiness and shareholder value. It is like diversity or engagement – we know it helps, but it is tough to prove. That said, here are a few things I learned in L.A…

  • Organizations with strong values perform the best. Kim Cameron of the University of Michigan’s school of Positive Organizational Scholarship presented data from 40 financial services firms …Comparing the top performers against the bottom, he found that almost half the variance could be explained by “virtuous” HR practices at the top companies, such as encouraging teamwork and focusing on employee strengths. Things that make us happy at work…
  • A daily vacation improves your performance and happiness. Take a vacation every day, at least mentally. …German researcher Sabine Sonnentag presented data showing that deplugging psychologically from work needs to be daily to improve well-being and your overall attitude about your job. Turn off the smartphone and the computer at home – at least when you are finished reading this blog.
  • Character strengths predict performance, but in different areas. …using your strengths of character at work are good predictors of performance and overall well-being. Claudia Harzer, a postdoctoral student at the University of South Carolina, is more specific. At the conference, she showed how different strengths predict performance in different areas. High levels of self-regulation means you are good at task performance, for example, and are well-suited for task-oriented assignments. If your strengths are more in the emotional intelligence arena, relationship and team-based activities get you going…
  • Finding meaning and purpose in your job is essential. Happiness at work requires that you draw some link between what you are doing and something larger, according to numerous presenters at the conference…Maybe it is a sense you are paying off your student loans and meeting new people. Maybe it is the satisfaction of mastering a new skill. Maybe it is knowing that people depend on you. Keep it simple, but look for some meaning…The truth is that you aren’t going to be happy if you see absolutely no reason or purpose for what you do.
  • Tweet nice to live longer. Or write nicer emails if you don’t tweet, says researcher Margaret Kern. A big data review of the language used by more than 70,000 social media users indicated that negativity and aggressiveness are bad for your health…

4 Secrets To Being Happy At Work

Kevin Kruse

What truly makes someone happy at work?

Think back to the best job you ever had. What made it so great? Often people will answer that it was when they had a great boss, but when pressed further they’ll say things like, “the work was fun and challenging.” Or, “we were really making a difference.”

In my book, Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment At Work, I detail the drivers of happiness and engagement based not just on my own experience as a Best Place to Work winner, but also on surveys of more than 10 million workers in 150 countries.

Although there are many different factors, and each individual has unique needs, the vast majority of engagement—how you feel about your job and your work—comes primarily from four things:

1. Communication
Is there consistent two-way communication? Do your ideas count? Does your manager provide the information you need to do your job well? Is she transparent?

2. Growth
Do you believe that you are learning new things? Are you advancing in your career? Is your work challenging?

3. Recognition
Do you feel appreciated? Do your manager and peers recognize extraordinary effort? Do they recognize extraordinary results?

4. Trust
Do you trust your leadership to get the company to a brighter future? Do you have confidence that they can navigate the storms of today, to reach the ultimate destination? Do you know what the destination is?

Life is too short to be unhappy at work.  Think about what is most important to you, and how your current job compares in these areas…

For Real Influence, Listen Past Your Blind Spots

by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

More than ever before, people see through the self-serving tactics and techniques that others use to persuade them. They don’t like being pushed, played or nudged to comply, and they resist and resent agenda-driven influencers.

The alternative is to use real influence to inspire buy-in and commitment. To learn how the best-of-the-best do it, we conducted over 100 extensive interviews with highly respected influencers from all walks of life for our recent book.

We found that great influencers follow a pattern of four steps that we can use too. An earlier post covered Step 1: Go for great outcomes. Later we’ll cover Step 3: Engage them in “their there;” and Step 4: When you’ve done enough… do more.

Here we cover Step 2: Listen past your blind spots. Including…

  • Level One: Avoidance Listening = Listening Over
  • Level Two: Defensive Listening = Listening At
  • Level Three: Problem-Solving Listening = Listening To
  • Level Four: Connective Listening = Listening Into …

Why Empathy Can Sometimes Help More Than Advice

Even though I did not know it at the time my mother’s simple empathy and acknowledgement of the difficult situation was the thing I needed. 

I wanted a magical solution but it didn’t exist. Her empathy and acknowledgement of the challenge was all I needed. Like most advice, we seldom know we need it when we receive it. If it’s truly useful we absorb it and use it without thinking about it…

Remember, when someone calls for personal advice the most valuable thing we can do is acknowledge the situation without judgment and remind them that we care deeply…

…most people do not want the instructions on “what to” or “how to” fix their problems, but rather to be reminded we care, are willing to listen and understand that sometimes life’s problems are not easy to solve.

Employee Engagement Does More than Boost Productivity

by John Baldoni

While people define engagement in various ways, I prefer a plain and simple definition: People want to come to work, understand their jobs, and know how their work contributes to the success of the organization.

Jim Harter Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup Research explained what engaged employees do differently in an email interview: “Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.” …

Considering the benefits, why do companies still struggle to foster engagement? Harter writes, “Many organizations measure either the wrong things, or too many things, or don’t make the data intuitively actionable. Many don’t make engagement a part of their overall strategy, or clarify why employee engagement is important, or provide quality education to help managers know what to do with the results, and in what order.”

So where do you begin if you’re committed to improving engagement — but feel intimidated by that laundry list of pitfalls? One way to simplify it is to focus on purpose. Communicate the purpose of the organization, and how employees’ individual purposes fit into that purpose…

10 Ways to Reduce Stress at Work That Could Save Your Life

Some practical suggestions by Enrique Stone.

Rather than waking up every morning and feeling the wave of stress and tension flow over you here are 10 easy ways to reduce your stress level that you can start using today…

  • Accept criticism
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Communicate with others
  • Use lists to your advantage
  • Cut the caffeine
  • Exercise
  • Designate a block of ‘tech-free’ time
  • Give yourself a massage
  • Unwind by laughing
  • Change …

10 Ways to Be Productive in the Summer

…Most of us become accustomed to the inevitable summer slow-down. Key people aren’t available (holidays); projects stall, waiting for Fall to roll around, and a general sense of lassitude begins to creep in.

Summer doesn’t need to be a write-off however. Here are 10 ways you can use those months to get ahead of the game…

Happiness Means Creativity: One Company’s Bet On Positive Psychology

BY: 

Rather than just fix what’s ailing you, positive psychology looks to actively improve individual and organizational well-being. Here’s how Havas Worldwide is working to build a happier, more resilient–and ultimately more creative–workforce…

The impact of noise on creativity

by Adi
A new site is based around the idea that we need a bit of background noise in order to work well.  The site, called Coffitivity aims to replicate the noise we experience in our favourite coffee shops from the comfort of our desks. The site was inspired by research showing that the noise made by coffee machines and so on is actually just the right amount of background noise to stimulate our creative juices…

Why Should Children Study the Arts?

By Thalia Goldstein

We look to cognitive, social, creative, emotional and brain-based outcomes as a result of visual arts, theatre, dance, music and creative writing classes.  A comprehensive and thorough look at the evidence and reasons why art is important for its own unique benefits as well as possible transfer effects to other areas, this book will be of interest to artists, educators, policy makers and academics…
However, we argue firmly that arts education should not need to be justified in terms of its effect on non-arts skills. The arts are important in their own right, for all students to learn, which is why we called our book Art for Art’s Sake…

A treat for literature lovers:

Walt Whitman Reads “America”: The Only Surviving Recording of the Beloved Poet’s Voice

by 

36 seconds of timeliness from a rare wax-cylinder capsule of timelessness…

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

Did You Know A Woman’s Right To Vote Was Sparked By Two Brave Women On July 4, 1876?

It’s well understood that the point of celebrating the 4th of July is its significance to the history of America. Once the Continental Congress approved the resolution on July 2, 1776 that declared the United States separate from England, all attention turned to the Declaration of Independence, the written statement outlining and defining that decision. After two days of writing, editing, debating and tweaking by the Committee of Five led by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration was penned to completion and approved on July 4th; hence, our many and mighty celebrations on that day.

But a lesser known fact of history is that it took another 100 years for women – a demographic so underrepresented in American government at the time – to create, approve and disseminate their own Declaration of Rights, but it did happen… exactly 100 years later, on July 4, 1876, and it became as crucial to the growing feminist movement as the first Declaration had been to the country at large…

Wearing my writer’s dress of entitlement

BY MARY PRICE-O’CONNOR
…all I’m saying is why not wear it, wear your entitlement to be your creative self, to be expressive, and fulfilling your creative life. It may be a real thing you put on, it may be an image of a thing or it may only be a feeling, or a choice. There is a whole wardrobe out there full of your creative potential, try something on! …
Cloak of Entitlement
All of these stories – and others – can be found in this week’s collection:

Happiness At Work #53

3 thoughts on “Happiness At Work #53 ~ highlights in this collection

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