Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On dreams, myths and happiness

A post by Laura Musikanski from the Happiness Alliance.

My life's calling - or vocation, from the latin vocare "to call" - is happiness work for me, the happiness movement is rooted in sustainability, social justice and the well-being of all
beings and this planet's ecosystems.  

Happiness work has changed my life. When I stepped into in in the summer of 2011, I felt I had found the next step in the work I was doing in sustainability (I was executive director of Sustainable Seattle then).  We brought a subjective indicator of wellbeing - the Gross National Happiness Index - to the sustainability movement, and are helping to spread the use and understanding of how to use subjective data by communities to increase personal and societal well-being. No small task. It has been a ton of work - all of it intensely rewarding emotionally albeit volunteer and hard on the pocketbook! That aside, I am still dedicate to this work and still love it. I did not know at four years ago that I was on a path that would lead me to find my own happiness.  

Four years later (and deeply happy) this work is taking me on another path that I did not expect.  Lately I have been exploring dreams and the importance of myths.  I have always had vivid, colorful dreams but never really spent much time reflecting on them. Joseph Campbell says that myths and dreams have the same logic, and Carl Jung spent much time on his own dreams. Drawing images from my dreams is part of what I am doing, and delving back into myths (as a child I spent countless hours pouring over D'Aulaires Greek Myths, then later Edith Hamilton and Robert Graves).  It feels like this work is important to the happiness work, but I do not know how... 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Finding Happiness in Your Work After 50

Finding Happiness in Your Work After 50 
Post by Heidi Cardena 

Women baby boomers aren’t fading away quietly into retirement. A large number of them are proving that entrepreneurship and following your dreams isn't just for millenials. Older women have
the strength, resources and life experience to affect real change in the world. From changing our landscapes, to changing our attitude, to changing our lives, women who use their talents are a formidable force for good. Take a look at what you can learn from these inspiring women over 50.

Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper has been enchanting audiences with her unique style, lyrics and songs since the '80s. However, her outspoken activism for the gay rights movement is a result of growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in the '60s. Now, she is a co-founder of the True Colors Fund, which raises awareness of LGBT youth homelessness and promotes tolerance for a safer and equal society. Lauper explains that she wants to inform and encourage straight people to support LGBT youth and their right to be accepted for who they are. Her latest artistic endeavor is the award-winning music and lyrics for the Broadway play “Kinky Boots,” which can be seen on Broadway now. The play keeps with her message of being who you want to be.

Barbara Davis
Another inspiring woman in the entertainment industry is the chief operating officer of The Actors Fund, Barbara Davis. The Actors Fund provides a safety net for those who work in the entertainment and performing arts industries with social services, health care services, employment and training and housing. She has been with The Fund for 30 years and is the vice president of the Waldman Foundation and advisor for the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine in New York.

Hillary Clinton
Women in politics are in a position to work for fundamental change in the world. One inspirational woman politician is Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State, Senator for New York and the First Lady of the United States. She advocates for children’s rights and welfare, gender equality and reproductive rights in the U.S. and worldwide. She currently is pushing for equal pay for women and support for women in the workplace to be successful and move up in their careers. Additionally, she is working to help disadvantaged girls receive an education.
Edna Levitt

Edna Levitt
Women like Edna Levitt show that life can begin after 50. Levitt fell in love with fitness later in life and decided to share her passion with others by starting a fitness business at age 66. Not only does she run her own business, but she also speaks about and demonstrates fitness techniques for older adults and she wrote a fitness book about strength training with resistance bands.

These are just a few inspiring women entering the second half of their lives are making a real
difference in the world. Whether you start your life working with the public or change courses later on, you can find the same kind of satisfaction and success in helping and inspiring others. So, find your passion and get to work!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hungry Ghosts- reposing!

Hungry Ghosts

My father sent me an article from the Guardian with my birthday present. It arrived late from Paris,  where my father lives, like the postal service of my childhood.The article is dated January 16, 2015: Outsider’s Critique of the Hurried West, written by John Vidal. It contains nine shots against Western culture or more specifically white people –fired by Amazonian shaman Davi Yanomami: wealth, greed and selfishness, shopping addiction, the high cost of living in the urban landscape, war for natural resource exploitation, politics (no explanation needed), healthcare systems focused on illness, conservation rather than restoration of the environment, and finally the orientation of man versus nature rather than the human as part of nature.    In essence, the white man is the reason our world is going to hell. 

I can't argue.  But I think there is more to it than that.  Davi Yanomamicontrasts the white people approach to war with that of his own “If one of our people is killed by arrows or sorcery blowpipes we only respond by trying to kill the enemy who ate him.”  Is this the proposed alternative?  And - let’s not forget that its easy to criticize, easy to shoot down, easy to find faults in others.   Not so easy is the creative, generative and loving path.

Lately, I have been listening to Joseph Campbell lectures. One of his observations is that the divide    To this, I do not think the problems Davi Yanomami points out are only of the white man, or the western culture. It seems to me, the mindset of selfishness, greed and “never enoughness” – what some call “the hungry ghost” are the problems facing us all.
between the East and West is no longer. Whether the forces of globalization, media, information technology or time, the differences between “white man” and that of any other race, color, creed or nationality are diminishing.

 Joseph Campbell also said, in his last lecture for Myths and the Masks of God, that  “the first low of our biology is self-protection, the first law of the spirit is compassion.”  Here, it seems, is a sign for a solution. I have also been listening to lectures on Jung, and by way of that a lecture given by Robert McDermott on Rudoph Steiner who paraphrases Steiner as saying something to the effect of  ‘our job on this planet is to so so love nature.’  My dharma teacher, Robert Beatty, has spent much of his life trying to understand why we treat the planet and each other poorly when we are of nature, we are the environment, we are the planet.  It's a problem the sustainability movement has also been trying to understand, and the happiness movement as well.  In fact, one of the early findings in the happiness movement is that nature and happiness are deeply connected.

On the backside of the clipping my father sent me is a story of an Afghani family that walked three weeks across land “littered with landmines” leaving behind the bodies of his parents and one of his sons killed during the journey to come to Kabul where his children shake from the cold at night and the economy is “on the rise” from an annual per capita income of $210 to $700 due to international funding, mostly foreign military spending.  The article points to opium and corruption as the growth industries, and gives an example of jobs created: scrap metal collecting (by a man would dreams of going to school to become and engineer or doctor).

It’s about as far from happiness as you can get.  And yet, love and creation is in our nature as much as it is in our nature to destroy.   This is part of the reason I believe so much in sustainability and the happiness movement.  Another has to do with my family.

My father, a Parisian Jew, was a child when WWII broke out. He was one of the lucky ones who   As his daughter, I grew up within the context of survival of WWII, and with the deep crisis that happens to a people when questioning how something so terrible could happen.  I remember very early in life, looking at image of concentration camp victims. From early, I embraced that part of my job, as his daughter, was to encourage in him, and in myself, the creation of a context where people would take care of each other, and would not allow something so terrible to happen again.

As a grandmother today, I think about the world my grandson is inheriting and this is yet another
reason for my dedication to the happiness movement, as much as it is to give hope to those robbed of it from the past, it is to help lay down the foundation for future generations to live in a natural, social and economic world that is vibrant, loving and caring of each and every being.  It is easy to get lost in the horrors of the world, to decry all the evil of human nature, and to give up.  But that is not the inevitable end for humans. As great as our destructive, selfish, mean and greedy power is, with all the innovation, production and outcomes that have come from it, so great is our generative, giving, loving and compassionate power – and perhaps, even more.

By Laura Musikanski

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How do YOU define happiness?

On Defining Happiness by Laura Musikanski 
Yesterday Mitch, one of the founders of The Rules Change Project, asked me how I define happiness. He explained that he defined it by how one feels, but was wondering anyway. We had a great conversation about what it will take to bring about a new economic paradigm, sustainability and wellbeing for all.

Mitch's question is not an uncommon one -in fact, it is most common.

It's particularly important not just because of defining happiness (affect/feeling, satisfaction with life and the domains, or external conditions of life and eudiamonia) but also to put to rest the war some have on happiness, pronouncing eudiamonia (a sense of purpose, being your true self in a fully integrated way, etc.) more important than how one feels and the pursuit of pleasure or hedonism, the war some have on the impact of genetic set points versus external versus internal factors and all that.

It's important to because how one defines happiness can include all of this, and embrace the interconnections.

And, like here, I did give Mitch the usual long-winded explanation, but told him I had just finished an infographic for just that purpose. So here it is, with the hope that a picture (or infographic, in this case) is worth a thousand words:
(download here)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

On a Healthy Happy Home

How to Style Your Home for Maximum Health and Happiness,
a guest post by Katie Writes

Your home is your sanctuary. A place you can get away from all the stresses and strains of the outdoor world, and it should reflect that. The last thing you want after a long day is to come home to a place that is cluttered up, with leaks or drab paintwork.

What you surround yourself with in your home can have a huge effect on your mental and physical
well-being. Have you ever walked into a room that is light and airy and beautifully decorated, instantly instilling a wonderful feeling of calm? With a little effort, that is what your home can be like.

Homes designed for maximum happiness generally share common themes—plenty of light, well-arranged furniture and uncluttered surfaces. Using this as your base and adding in a spark of your own personality, you can create your perfectly balanced oasis.

Create Light
The easiest approach, of course, is to have large windows in every room to allow the sun to pour in. If this is not possible then paint the walls a fresh, sparkling white or neutral tone.
Avoid chunky, dark furniture as this will absorb the light. Light reflecting items like acrylics and glass will appear to take up less space, in turn making the room seem more open.
Hanging mirrors in a darker room is a great way to create light. Placed opposite a window, the mirror will reflect light into the room. Having two mirrors opposite each other will reflect light, creating a brighter feel.

Go Minimalist
Less is definitely more when you are styling your home. Get rid of clutter and allow your house to breath—your home will instantly feel more peaceful.
Choose hidden storage solutions and maximize space under tables and beds, to stash items you don’t often use.

Bring Nature into Your Home
Nature is well documented to have a positive effect on your well-being. Decorating your interior with will increase oxygen levels and help to eliminate nasty toxins from the air. Toxins can build up from synthetic materials in our home and even in our clothes.
house plants
Feng shui experts say that flowers give different energies depending on their type, so having them in your home will have a range of positive effects. Mix colors depending on your mood, like red and violet for increased energy, green and yellow for increased happiness or blue for a more calming effect.

Create a Safe Haven
Your home should be your safe place, where you can completely be yourself, whatever you choose that to be. Make sure your home has up-to-date safety features. Knowing your home is protected will allow you to relax with confidence.

Windows are an eye to the world but should be covered at night time to create that cozy nest feel. Consider implementing chic handcrafted window coverings to add a touch of personality and comfort to your decor.

After a little thought and organization, you can create a home that will fulfill all your needs, spiritually and physically. Get it right and you will enjoy a happier, healthier and more productive life.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Change the world with Castles in the Sky, and an ask for you to help build

About this post: The world changes because people build castles in the sky - dream impossible dreams, and then take action to make them happen.  Marilyn Winter-Tamkin, Meryl Lefkoff and the group at Emergent Diplomacy have been laying the foundation to build the a castle in the sky to change our economic paradigm and our world. I met Meryl in 2012 at the UN's Happiness & Well-being high level meeting, and Marilyn shortly after.  Both are phenomenal people who are doing phenomenal things.  This post is for all of you systems thinkers who believe a better future is possible (like me!), and an ask that you contribute to this world-changing castle in the sky. Laura 

A guest post from Marilyn Winter-Tamkin
People around the world are suffering and growing angry about increasing inequality,poverty, global
climate change, and endless war. Political leaders are not changing the situation.

Bretton Woods 3.0 is about changing things. Bretton Woods 3.0 is an unprecedented global summit to be held in May, 2016 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It will bring together grassroots activists who understand how to successfully mobilize large communities with leaders who focus on innovative perspectives and solutions to the overwhelming problems we face. This is a gathering where magic will happen.

After 10 days of working sessions, participants will emerge with a collaborative global strategy and action plans to ignite and maintain long term coordinated mass action. These ongoing actions will be designed to keep pressure on policy makers to change the way we measure human progress; to make our current economic policies more compassionate; and to create a new economic system that protects our children's future and the planet's resources.

Interested? Participate with Indiegogo campaign site.

We hope you will contribute generously, and ask you friends and colleagues to consider doing so, too.

Yes, we really can change the world!

Many thanks,

Marilyn, Board Director of Emergent Diplomacy

Friday, January 16, 2015

Play Matchmaker for Valentine's day this year

A guest post from social monsters:
Play Matchmaker This Valentine's Day

Studies published in the Social Psychology and Personality Science journal show chronic
matchmaking is associated with higher well being. Other studies show matching people on how well they get along increases happiness and is more intrinsically rewarding.
Do you have friends that you want to get together but it seems like they could be an unlikely match? Another study shows the more unlikely the match, the more rewarding it is when it proves successful. So if you’re down in the dumps this Valentines Day, play Cupid to make yourself feel fantastic while helping someone else discover love.
Here are some ideas to get started:

Be a Good Listener

Listen to your friends and try to decipher what they’re really trying to tell you. When shesays, “I just want a good guy” press to find out what that means to her. Does she want someone loyal and hardworking? Or is she looking for a guy who is thoughtful and spontaneous with a history of great relationships?
Remember not every match is going to be a good fit. If you’re hearing your friend say she’s just not ready to date, then respect that. Offer to set her up on a casual date with someone fun that will take her mind off a past relationship or whatever is troubling her. Instead, match her up with a few great friends and help plan an evening out.

Offer a Personality Test

It can be tricky to tell if a couple is going to spark or not. Give yourself an advantage by sending them both a personality test. The idea is to look for traits the other finds attractive, not to necessarily match a couple up based on having a similar personality. While a test can’t determine personality, it can help determine the odds that a pair will hit it off or share an appreciation for each other. Couple the personality test with what you already know from this couple to make an educated guess about their chances for a love match.

Help Take the Edge Off

It’s okay to share a little inside knowledge about the couple without disclosing everything. Tell him about how she loves volunteering with animals and going on long walks through the city. Tell her about his appreciation for architecture and to look at which buildings are going up around town next. But don't interfere unless there's confusion after the date.
For example, she might think he's just not interested while he's crazy about her. And if the guy takes the traditional approach and asks out the woman, make a suggestion to get him a gift. Consider suggesting heartfelt gifts like chocolate dipped strawberries or a collection of his favorite teas to inspire fun and help give the evening a spark.

Make It Easy to Say Yes

Matching up the perfect couple may offer the matchmaker a thrill, but can be stressful for the couple involved. Make it easy for them to say yes. Make suggestions about the date you know they would both enjoy or offer to organize it yourself. Look for interesting and fun events in your city where they can get to know each other like a jazz night at a local museum. Avoid plans where they have to make awkward conversation on their own with no reprieve of entertainment or distraction in sight.