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Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

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To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they control it, wish to influence its direction - Theodore Zeldin

What's Changing? - Happiness



Please see selected recent happiness-related change.


See also:


August 2018


July 2018


June 2018

  • Happiness is subjective, argued Quartz, noting for example that married couples have competing accounts of how much time they spend together, or how many arguments they have?.One of the few constant findings in marriage research is that spouses tend to view the same relationship quite differently. Married spouses often give researchers contrasting reports on virtually everything: how the chores are shared, how often they have sex, and even how much money they earn. But, Quartz found, taken together, data paints a picture of lasting marriage as a long process of letting go of conflict and learning how to be together.

  • A much-discussed article for The Atlantic, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation,” charts accelerating social collapse. Teenagers are suddenly less likely to date, less likely to leave the home without their parents, more likely to put off the activities of adulthood. They are spending more time alone with their digital screens, and the greater the screen time, the greater the unhappiness. Eighth graders who are heavy users of social media are 27 percent more likely to be depressed.
  • The UK town of Rochdale is currently experimenting with the Rochdale feelgood index, a machine learning system that gauges the happiness of residents in real-time, using tweets sent in the city. The feelgood index is less expensive and time-consuming than traditional polls to measure happiness and wellbeing. Rochdale officials hope to use the index to help identify possible improvements in public services, as well as to study whether less affluent areas of Rochdale experience chronically lower levels of wellbeing.
  • In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle proposed that humans are social, rational animals that seek to “live well". To that end, he proposed a system of ethics designed to help us reach eudaimonia, a world that means living well or flourishing. Eudaimonia is reached by living virtuously and building up your character traits until you don’t even have to think about your choices before making the right one.
  • The Frankfurt School theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor W Adorno called ‘the culture industry’ the way that Hegel’s ‘unhappy consciousness’ had been masked by the pleasures of mass culture and consumption, preventing its victims from feeling the pangs of their true condition


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.



  • 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, 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.