Happiness At Work #56 ~ this week’s highlights

Photo by Martyn Duffy

Here are some of the stories we especially like in this week’s new collection of

Happiness At Work #56 of 26th July 2013

Step Back, Relax and Enjoy Summer

Diane Lang is a frequent guest on TV and radio and has been featured in many magazines, newspapers, and blogs and has a website, dlcounseling.com.

How can we live mindfully? Here are some steps Lang recommends:

1. Be an active listener: When someone is talking to you, stay present. Don’t think about anything else. Stay focus. Give direct eye contact. Ask questions. Summarize. Show you’re listening by the non-verbal messages with you send tiwth your eyes, hands and face.

2. Do one thing at a time: We are a society of multitaskers, but to be mindful we need to slow down, focus on the task, get totally absorbed on what we are doing, get into “flow.”

3. Simplify your life: Don’t fill your day just to be occupied. That is just being busy without purpose. Do the things you enjoy and love. Don’t waste time and energy on things that are just “fillers.”

4. Take some time each day to do nothing: “I mean nothing,” Lang says. This doesn’t mean thought time or nap time. It means just sitting and observing. Try to clear your mind completely and enjoy the silence.

5. Embrace nature: Another way to be quiet is by being surrounded by nature. Sit outside. Take a walk. Go for a swim. Lay in the sun (but wear sunscreen!).

6. Avoid judgment: That takes away from the experiences of the season. Don’t look at mindfulness as a chore. It’s just a state of being. It’s enjoying every moment. It’s being alive in every moment. It’s being fully involved in every activity and conversation.

7. Mindfulness is awareness: Be aware that every moment of your life is important, no matter how big or small.

8. Truly accept your life: Accept where you are at this moment. Be aware of your emotions. Don’t push them down or avoid them. They will eventually rear there ugly head. Accept them, feel them and then you can move forward. Don’t intellectualize or repress your feelings. If you feel what is happening, the negative feelings will pass quicker. Use your negative emotions as a teachable moment.

9. Mindfulness means self-compassion: Have a “higher talk” with yourself. Watch the tape recorder playing in your head. Change your self-talk. Use positive affirmations.

Link to read more

photo credit: idlphoto via photopin cc

photo credit: idlphoto via photopin cc

How Naps Affect Your Brain and Why You Should Have One Every Day

Written by 

…Studies of napping have shown improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking and memory performance…the body clock and your body’s best time for everything, we’re naturally designed to have two sleeps per day…

…while the left side of your brain takes some time off to relax, the right side is clearing out your temporary storage areas, pushing information into long-term storage and solidifying your memories from the day…

Here are some tips to help you work out the best way to get the most from your nap:

  1. Learn how long you take to get to sleep…
  2. Don’t sleep too long…
  3. Choose the right time of day…
  4. Practice…

Link to read this article

Study: Happiness of British Teenagers is in Decline

Britons ages 14-15 were less likely to be happy about school, their appearance and the amount of choice and freedom they have, than the others surveyed, the report said.

The charity, which questioned 42,000 8-17-year-olds, said all of society has a part to play in boosting children’s well-being.

“The well-being of our future generation in Britain is critical. So it is incredibly worrying that any improvements this country has seen in children’s well-being over the last two decades appear to have stalled,” Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said in a statement.

“These startling findings show that we should be paying particular attention to improving the happiness of this country’s teenagers. These findings clearly show that we can’t simply dismiss their low well-being as inevitable ‘teen grumpiness.’ They are facing very real problems we can all work to solve, such as not feeling safe at home, being exposed to family conflict or being bullied.”

Link to read more

Happiness peaks during 20s and 60s, slumps in mid-50s: study

Backing up a popular well-being theory called the U-shape, new research shows people are happiest around age 23 and then again around age 69. Most people are the least satisfied with life in their 50s, but ditching regrets could help get them back on the happy track.


Schwandt’s data comes from more than 23,000 surveys that were conducted in Germany, among participants between ages 17 and 85. They were asked how satisfied they were with their current life, and how they expected to feel about life in five years.

The research also shows that people are bad at predicting their future well-being.

“The young strongly overestimate their future life satisfaction while the elderly tend to underestimate it,” Schwandt said.

Link to read more

What Is Resilience?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. One example is the response of many Americans to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and individuals’ efforts to rebuild their lives.

Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone…

Link to read more

11 Steps To Happiness At Work (in photos)

To achieve greater happiness at work, you don’t need your boss to stop calling you at night. You don’t need to make more money. You don’t need to follow your dream of being a sommelier, or running a B&B in Vermont. So says Srikumar Rao, the author of Happiness at Work. The biggest obstacle to happiness is simply your belief that you’re the prisoner of circumstance, powerless before the things that happen to you, he says. “We create our own experience,” he adds.

Here are 11 steps to happiness at work, drawn from his recommendations…

Link to read more

Happiness in the Workplace: Enjoyed By Few, But Achievable For All

If you still have doubts about – or need to make the case for – the importance of happiness at work this excellent article by Kaitlin Louie summarises some of the key research into the link between professional and organisational success and happiness, and then goes on to outline some of the best advice about how to increase happiness at work from experts in the field…

Whether we realize it or not, happiness is one of the ultimate goals of everything we do. From the jobs we strive to obtain to the homes and cars we buy to the company we keep, many of our daily decisions are steps towards what we believe will bring us joy. Given the importance we place on achieving happiness throughout our lives, it comes as no surprise that workplace contentment is a topic of strong public interest and discussion. We spend a great deal of our waking hours at work, thinking about work and preparing for work. Books have been written on the subject, and there are numerous studies and articles that attempt to explain what it takes to find true and lasting professional happiness…

Link to read more

photo credit: mckaysavage via photopin cc

photo credit: mckaysavage via photopin cc

The Secret to Entrepreneurial Happiness

…if happiness cannot be bought — and yet we use it to measure our business success — what can we do to attain it? Over the last decade, researchers in Positive Psychology have discovered a number of behaviours that boost happiness. To boost your own, practice these four behaviours:

  1. Create a social circle of like-minded entrepreneurs…
  2. Give your time away…
  3. Set attainable goals…
  4. Practice gratitude…

Link to read full article

What Silicon Valley Developers Can Teach Us About Happiness At Work


…For some companies, like Mindflash, Agile has been a way to redefine success — an alternative to a workplace culture of stress and burnout that ultimately takes a toll on both employee well-being and the company’s bottom-line profits…

Here are four Agile principles that anyone can use to boost productivity — and happiness — at work.

Take breaks…

Focus on what you enjoy and what you’re good at…

Eliminate unnecessary work…

Take time to reflect…

Communicate face-to-face…

Link to read more

Are Shallow People Happier At Work?

A nice reflective piece by By Gretchen Rubin (which also includes video conversation about what helps to make happiness at work) …

One surprising thing about happiness? That it has such a bad reputation.

Happiness, many people assume, is boring–a complacent state of mind for self-absorbed, uninteresting people…

In fact, however, studies show–and experience bears out–that happiness doesn’t make people complacent or self-centered. Rather, happier people are more interested in the problems of other people, and in the problems of the world. They’re more likely to volunteer, to give away money, to be more curious, to want to learn a new skill, to persist in problem-solving, to help others, and to be friendly. They’re more resilient, productive, and healthier. Unhappy people are more likely to be defensive, isolated, and preoccupied with their own problems.

Some people are argue that it’s better to be interesting than happy. But that’s a false choice…

I often think of Simone Weil’s observation, adapted for unhappiness and happiness: “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” …

Link to read more

Ed Diener’s ‘Science of Happiness’


…Guaranteed happiness boosters include meditation, doing exercise, helping others, having interests you’re passionate about … the list is long. Diener is very careful here to distinguish between lasting contentment and short-lived pleasure. “So we talk about it as sustainable happiness because sometimes people try the short and quick things that don’t work like drugs, and alcohol and lots of sex and sensation-seeking, and we say no, turn to the things we know work in the long run,” he says.

And what works better than anything else is having close supportive relationships. When Diener and founder of positive psychology Martin Seligman who presented at Happiness & Its Causes 2012, looked at the data, they discovered the top five percent, “the really, really happy people” all had very strong connections with others, “people who would really step up and help them and go to bat for them. And it was universal.” …

Link to read more

Bioeconomics: The Hidden Megascience

…If we conceive of human beings as Homo economicus, as non-sentient automatons whose behaviours can be described by algorithms, sentience will be ignored if not forbidden and felt experience will be seen as irrelevant. This is exactly what is happening.

By contrast, to see reality as a living process would literally change everything. This is the challenge of Enlivenment as a “transcendent paradigm.” Its insistence that our policies focus on living experience provides the deepest possible ethical leverage for intervening in our global system.3 Of course, this approach is moot in today’s political culture. But political change must start with our imagining of a different reality. Only by imagining a different world have people ever been able to change the current one…

Link to read more

The Art of Memory


…I’m very interested in hearing about any techniques that might help me do this, including those described here by accomplished memory athlete Daniel Kilov, who will be presenting at our Mind & Its Potential conference later this year.

Kilov says that when he tells people he’s a memory athlete, many wonder why he bothers given it’s so easy in today’s world to retrieve whatever information we want by clicking on Google or Wikipedia. He believes their question goes to the “heart of the conception we have of memory and of the relationship that we think it has to learning”, a conception that’s formed when we’re at school and asked to memorise through boring repetition. “It’s a conception of memory as being a dull, impersonal and ineffective parroting,” he says.

His preferred conception of memory is that it’s creative, personal, fun and highly effective. Moreover, he espouses the value of memory techniques as a potential revolution in education. Not that this would be the first time excellent recall skills have enjoyed high status in academia. As a matter of historical fact, the art of memory has its origins in ancient Greece where, says Kilov, it was practiced universally by the great thinkers of the time who “recognised that creativity, focus and critical analysis were the kinds of things that could only happen in the minds of well-trained mnemonics.”

Link to read more

The Science Behind How We Learn New Skills


…Everyone prefers to learn a little differently, so unfortunately you might need to experiment with different methods as you’re taking on a new skill. The above list certainly doesn’t inlucde everything, but it’s a starting point to learning more effectively. You’re bound to hit plenty of barriers along the way, and sticking with it isn’t always easy, but the benefits are worth it: a bigger, smarter brain that can process things easily…

Link to read the full article of knowledge and guidelines about how to learn well

Leadership Lesson: Do You Hear Me?

by Andy Uskavitch

Listening requires you to stop what you’re doing and to have patience with the conversation.”

Leaders need to focus in order to keep listening, or else we’re just . . . hearing.  Too many leaders have so many things on their minds that if they don’t just stop and focus on listening, it’s not long before they’re thinking about other things and slipping into the hearing mode…

Link to read full article including practical Active Listening techniques

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

The Four Facets of Communication at Work

This article was written by Neil Payne, Founder and Marketing Director of translation services company Kwintessential.

Ask ten people what they think contributes to a successful working environment and you can bet your bottom dollar the majority will agree on one factor – communication. We recognise and value communication for its contribution to a better workplace through the efficiencies it brings, performances it enhances, trust it builds and morale it nurtures.

Communication is good, and as a result most organisations seek to promote it in one form or another at the heart of their affairs. However, as we all know, sometimes things are not as we would like them to be; communication can be inconsistent, non-existent or simply poor. The consequences are on the whole negative and can lead to an organisation with problems…

Although there are many facets to communication, a simple approach is to look at the four key areas of the organisation, the culture, the people and the platforms…

Link to read more

Steve McCurry’s Blog: Eye Witness

The latest eye-opening photos from master photographer of human life around our planet…

Eyes speak a universal language, and no
interpreter is needed

Link to these photos

Fishes and Trees: Timely Mindfulness Tips from Albert Einstein

Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid. — Albert Einstein

12 Tips on Mindfulness From Albert Einstein

    1. I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. Use your passionate curiosity! How to begin? Use mindfulness. Settle into yourself, hear those whispered truths.
    2. Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. Are you trying to drive and kiss? Trying to work a “job” and hold your dreams ’till some future whenever? Stop that. Start kissing.
    3. Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.** Fish who are paying attention, being mindful, know that trying to climb a tree is a waste of a life. Smart fish go for the water, that place from which one happily thrives.
    4. The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious — the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Is there any room in your life for the mysterious? If not… bummer. That’s the space wherein fish understand that trying to climb a tree is pretty stupid. Mindful awareness can help you see the mysterious body of water that’s right in front of you.
    5. Any fool can know. The point is to understand. Any fool fish intellectually knows that climbing a tree just isn’t going to happen. But. To understand the ramifications, and make a different choice, well… that’s where mindfulness comes in handy.
    6. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Cultivating a mindful awareness practice helps us manage those inevitable difficult times. It helps us get in the water rather than trying to climb trees.
    7. Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts. If all the fish around us are crazily trying to climb, it’s more challenging to see with our own eyes that it’s a no-win effort. Feeling our way with our hearts is the minority position. (70 percent disengagement in the workforce?) Mindfulness goes a long way toward giving us the courage to do what needs doin’.
    8. The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. Yes, you’ll need to do something different in order to swim in your own little pond (or big fat ocean). What can help you make the necessary changes? That’s right… mindfulness.
    9. The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.Mindful awareness helps develop the ability to drop into the gift of your intuitive mind. If more fish cultivated this practice… well, just imagine the results!
    10. I believe in intuitions and inspirations…I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am. Most fish aren’t stopping long enough to know how they feel about anything. Mindfulness helps us feel into what is true. When we understand that, we can begin making better choices for ourselves and the people we love.
    11. Imagination is the highest form of research. Imagination? Feeling into your heart? Intuition? None of these concepts is high on the list of most organizations. What might be wrong with this picture? Start asking yourself what you need to know. Do it through mindful awareness. Align with Einstein.
    12. The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives. How much of you is dying inside while you’re madly trying to climb a tree when you really belong in the water? Develop your mindfulness muscle. Start living.

Mindfulness isn’t a cure-all for everything on the planet. But it sure does help. With almost everything…

Link to read more

For all of these articles, plus many more, please see this week’s new collection of stories about happiness and wellbeing at work, resilience & self-mastery, learning & creativity, leadership and artistry …

Happiness At Work edition #56 of 26th July 2013

We hope you find things in this to enjoy and use.

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