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What's Changing? - Happiness

Happiness

 

Please see selected recent developments about happiness.

See also:

 

May 2018

  • Finns aren’t happy about their reputation for being happy. The country’s top ranking in the World Happiness Report was met with scepticism at home, claimed Quartz.

 

Pre-2018

  • Analysis in The Atlantic showed that 1) Generally speaking, richer countries are happier countries. But since many of these rich countries share other traits -- they're mostly democracies with strong property rights traditions, for example -- some studies suggest that it's our institutions that are making us happy, not just the wealth. 2) Generally speaking, richer people are happier people. But young people and the elderly appear less influenced by having more money.  3) But money has diminishing returns - like just about everything else. Satisfaction rises with income until about $75,000 (or perhaps as high as $120,000). After that, researchers have had trouble proving that more money makes that much of a difference.
  • While true happiness may have a different definition to each of us, some claim that science can give us a glimpse at the underlying biological factors behind happiness. From the food we eat to room temperature, there are thousands of factors that play a role in how our brains work and the moods that we are in.
  • Recent studies suggest that one common factor can be found in the "happiest" 10% of people: the strength of their social relationships. Psychological research also seems to show that, as people get older, they generally become happier, more content, and have a more positive outlook on the world.
  • Meanwhile, at the societal level, tools like The Happy Planet Index (see video below) measure the happiness of countries in relation to the amount of resources each one uses, while the Mappiness (see image) app beeps users once (or more) a day to ask how they're feeling, and a few basic things to control for: who they're with, where they are and what they're doing, and builds from this a barometer of societal mood.
  • Can we imagine how we might all become just slightly happier, rather than trying to solve the insoluble - i.e. the perennial problem of human happiness and fulfilment? Becoming happier is a subject that has occupied some of history's greatest thinkers, but how do we sort the good ideas from the bad? Are there any hard and fast rules when it comes to happiness, and should we trust anyone who claims to know the secret?
  • Over many years journalist Oliver Burkeman travelled to some of the strangest corners of the 'happiness industry' in an attempt to find out; he subsequently recounted his findings to an RSA audience. From stress, procrastination and insomnia, to laughter, creativity and wealth, Burkeman suggested how we might imagine achieving a more realistic goal - i.e. becoming slightly happier.
  • Can we also imagine how we might become better parents, partners, colleagues, citizens...by not looking for happiness for our own sakes, but instead through helping others
  • Meanwhile, while per capital income has more than doubled in the US since 1972, subjective measures of well-being, like happiness, remain unchanged, according to the UN’s 2018 World Happiness Report. Health crises - from opioids to obesity - haven’t helped.  Indeed there is even now a "misery index", a crude economic measure that adds together a country's unemployment and inflation rate.

 

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