Linked inTwitter

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

Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on Twitter will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

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

Happiness

 

Please see selected recent happiness-related change.

 

See also:

 

July 2019

  • paper based on data compiled by Gallup, and which covered nearly 1.9m employees across 230 separate organisations in 73 countries, measured four potential measures of corporate performance: customer loyalty, employee productivity, profitability and staff turnover. It found that employee satisfaction had a substantial positive correlation with customer loyalty and a negative link with staff turnover. Furthermore, worker satisfaction was correlated with higher productivity and profitability. The authors also cited studies of changes within individual firms and organisations which seem to show that improvements in employee morale precede gains in productivity, rather than the other way round, leading The Economist to conclude that employee happiness and business success are linked.
  • The eminent happiness researcher Richard Layard examined what makes an employee happy at work. His conclusion: it’s the same things that make people happy in their lives: a sense of belonging, social connections, and a purpose or meaning. 

 

June 2019

  • The 2019 World Happiness Report, conducted by Gallup, uses a three-year rolling average of survey responses around six factors: GDP per capita; social support; life expectancy; freedom to make life choices; generosity; and corruption levels. Top-ranked country Finland scored well on all factors but particularly strongly on generosity. The authors say that helping others makes you feel better, but only if you choose to do it. Almost half of Finns donate regularly to charity and almost a third said they had given up time to volunteer for a charity in the previous month.
  • The Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute pointed out that Finland tops the happiness list despite not having the highest GDP of the Nordic countries. It is the country’s social safety net combined with personal freedom and a good work-life balance that gives it the edge. The OECD’s Better Life Index added hat Finland’s sense of wellbeing may also be down to a feeling of personal safety in a troubled world. Finns feel good about their environment, sense of community and public services and education, but they worry about jobs and housing.

 

April 2019

  • People around the world are becoming more angry, stressed and worried. Of some 150,000 people interviewed in over 140 countries, a third in 2019 said they suffered stress, while at least one in five experienced sadness or anger.The annual Gallup Global Emotions Report asked people about their positive and negative experiences. The most negative country was Chad (where seven out of 10 people struggled to find food), followed by Niger. The most positive country was Paraguay.
  • The School of Life is wary of the work happiness, preferring a term used by the Ancient Greeks: Eudaimonia, most commonly translated as ‘fulfilment’. What distinguishes happiness from fulfilment is pain. It is eminently possible to be fulfilled whilst experiencing our daily helping of sadness, discomfort, and suffering. 

 

March 2019

 

February 2019

 

January 2019

 

December 2018

  • Perhaps some people don’t really want to be happy. A Nobel laureate says satisfaction is what most people actually want, and it’s entirely distinct from happiness.
  • In What Kind of Happiness Do People Value Most?, Harvard Business Review reported on a series of studies, recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychologywhich directly asked thousands of people (ages 18 to 81) about their preference between experienced and remembered happiness. It found that people’s preferences differed according to the length of time they were considering - and according to their culture. For Westerners, the happiness most people said they wanted for the next day was different from the happiness they said they wanted for their lifetime, even though one’s days add up to one’s life.
  • Why the long face? Why does sadness inspire great art when happiness cannot? examined how sadness can make people seem nobler, more elegant, more adult. Which is pretty weird, when you think about it, noted Aeon, asking what it is it about sadness that often gets the creative juices flowing.
  • Having money won’t make you happier – but spending it might, according to getabstract, arguing that the right spending habits can produce measurable changes in your physical and emotional well-being. In Happy Money, Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology, and Michael Norton, an associate professor of marketing, distilled their findings into the five principles of “smart spending.” Among their tips: don’t buy stuff; buy experiences, as one may get more happiness out of a trip overseas or a visit to a museum through connecting with other people and accumulate memories.
  • Further reading: 

 

November 2018

  • More people are living longer these days - but what can we do to ensure that our added years are happy ones, asked Quartz? The answer, according to one researcher, lies in intergenerational friendships. While contemporary culture conspires to keep the young and old segregated from one another, initiatives in places like Singapore and London are creating opportunities for them to connect over shared meals, reading lessons, and dance parties.
  • Russians have become happier, according to The Economist. Healthier living is replacing alcohol and curbing the country’s male suicide rate.

 

October 2018

 

September 2018

 

August 2018

  • The government of Delhi added a new subject to the school curriculum in the hope that it will transform the educational outcomes of children - happiness. Pupils from pre-primary age up to 14 years old are receiving daily lessons in happiness, which include yoga and meditation and teaching children to take pride in their work. The classes start with mindfulness, followed by stories and activities. While there won’t be any exams associated with the new subject, teachers will make periodic assessments of children’s progress using a “Happiness Index”.
  • Worabel is Korean shorthand slang for ‘work-life balance’. South Koreans famously put in some of the longest working hours on the planet; according to the OECD more than 20% of workers exceed 50 hours a week. And the average employee barely takes half of their leave days. The resulting stress, noted the BBC, contributes to a nation with a shockingly high number of suicides. It is also a factor in the country’s record low birth rate, as working mothers also carry the bulk of parenting responsibilities. The government’s solution for this pile-up of problems: make everyone happier.

 

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.

 

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.
  • Gross National Happiness, written into Bhutan's constitution, which emphasises the importance of Gross National Happiness over Gross Domestic Product, stipulated the country must have at least 60 percent forest cover.

 

Timelines
Spaces