Sunday, August 24, 2014

On the connection between personal happiness and social change.

August is a funny time for volunteer non-profits, particularly August.  Board meetings are often not held in August.  Foundation deadlines often don't fall during August.  Meetings are harder to schedule - people scramble to take that summer vacation before its too late. And, of course, summer day beacon for lassitude and the easing of heat in the evening threaten the cooler months.

At the same time,  August can be great time to get things done. Not much is happening to divert your attention.  Earlier this summer, the Happiness Alliance's board gathered for its second annual retreat. We met on a houseboat on Seattle's Lake Union. We talked for two days while the ducks paddled past, neighbors plunged into the water to escape the afternoon heat and the houseboat swayed in the wake of summer boating traffic.  The dreams and plans from our annual meeting the last year were all coming true, and we were excited to create our dreams for this year.

One of those dreams is to contribute to the mending of gap between personal happiness and
social change in the happiness movement.  Our work - that of the Happiness Alliance - is all about helping to create a new economic paradigm: one where money, consumption and economic growth is not paramount and the well-being and happiness of all beings is paramount.

 Imagine if the government used a comprehensive measure of wellbeing - the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index could be the subjective side of this - instead of just Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Imagine if companies cared as much about their employees and the communities they operated in as they did about profit. And imagine if your internal and socially conditions marker for your success where whether you were happy, and not your financial status.

And so, in the last month I have been working with my board members and others to create resources for personal happiness.  Many of them are on our home page
and one of my favorite is a short (8 min) video explaining the connection between positive psychology and the happiness movement:
I am looking forward to this next year, and to what focusing on the connections between personal happiness and a new economic paradigm bring.
- Laura Musikanski, JD, MBA
Executive Director of The Happiness Alliance, home of the Happiness Initiative and GNH Index 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Economy Coalition HackPad notes

Today one of the New Economy Coalition's project meetings happened - on hackpad. We met online, on the phone, 100% virtual to explore the questions:

When you think about what is essential to the success of the movements for Thriving Resilience and a New Economy, what key alignments have we established, what tensions need to be resolved, and what deeper inquiries must be undertaken? 

Mike Toye from Quebec, Canada identified the trend we are seeing in a new set of principles. He laid
out two sets (below).  The timing of the conversation was interesting for me - I had spent the better part of the night before talking with my better half about values, principles and their place in the happiness movement. We had discussed the evolution from "might makes right" to chivalry and then the golden rule, the stories that encapsulated these cultures, the timing of these stories, the common thread among them and where we are when follow that thread.  Our resolution from that conversation was to explore values, principles and the emerging story for the happiness movement, with a perspective of reverence for what is worthy of being celebrated in our past.

My personal belief is the more conversations we have like this at a personal and professional level, the more principles are issued, the more values are identified, the closer we are to the new economy - one based on happiness, social justice, sustainability and resilience for all beings.

The principles Mike identified:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Money, Happiness and a New Economic Paradigm

Is our organization, the Happiness Alliance - home of the Happiness Initiative and Gross National Happiness Index - all about money? No.
But money helps. It seems paradoxical, hypocritical, a contradiction.
But it's not.

In fact, when we talk about a new economic paradigm, social change, sustainability and the happiness movement, we are not talking about replacing money. Money still matters. It is still the medium we use for exchange. It's just not the main thing we all focus on, use as a measure of our own self-worth, our organization's value, our countries success.  Instead we use the metric and goal of happiness (well-being), sustainability, resilience, and justice for all.

In the meantime, we live in the metric driven world where money, wealth and gross domestic product reign supreme. And in that world, there are ways to meet basic needs without money - thanks to the virtues of generosity, caring and collaboration. But we still need money. In fact, in a happiness driven world, we will also still need money - as a medium of exchange. We will just treat it differently in our hearts, in our society and in our lives.

This is all to say that we are running a fundraiser. We need money - donations - to fund the Yes, it's paradoxical. Yes, it's ironic, and yes, it's necessary. 
transformation from a money driven society to a wellbeing driven one.

So please give- give to the happiness movement.  There are three ways to give: to our Gross National Happiness Index, to fund important features dearly needed including a personal profile and automated group use of the GNH Index, and the Happiness Data Playbook.  Learn more here and give

Sunday, July 6, 2014

How Happy is LA? Mika Kim - Happiness Initiative Leader - tells us

Mika Kim, Happiness Initiative Leader and Chief Happiness Officer of  just issued the first Happiness Report for LA.

Learn More - Check it out here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Meaghan Rodeck on How to Stay Connected when Off the Beaten Path

Find Happiness Off the Beaten Path? How to Maintain Balance With the Real World

We know happiness isn't about self-gratifying behavior, but sometimes, when we find our happiness off the beaten path, it can feel selfish because the people we love are often asked to come along or live with us being frequently (even persistently) out of touch.  

Whether your bliss is serving overseas in disaster relief, volunteering in the back countries of our National Parks or something else altogether, it's hard on the people left behind when they don't hear from you.
Though you may not have tons of time for conversational catch ups, it's important to let the people who love you know that you're still alive and well.
If you're outside the realm of reliable cell networks or the reach of the Internet, the most reliable option is a satellite phone. Companies like Iridium offer satellite phones as short term rentals or for sale if you spend enough time off the grid to need the hardware full time.
If your environment is at all dangerous, the importance of regularly checking in cannot be overstated. Help your loved ones have peace of mind, and prevent wasting resources sent on an unnecessary rescue mission because you failed to check in.
It's easy to check in via social media, email or text when you're using a fully charged smartphone on a reliable cell network. However, setting up a foolproof and satisfying communication plan without normal technology capabilities is a little more challenging.
Identify the people you'll be responsible for checking in with and how often they should expect to hear from you. Then, make sure they all know how to get in touch with each other if they don't hear from you when expected.
For your extended network—people you love and want to maintain contact with, but won't check in with regularly—you may want to consider a phone tree. That way, if there's ever news that needs to be shared with them (or with you) messages can flow through your network even when you don't have the time or battery power to connect directly.
Once you've sketched out your network and tree—and shared relevant contact information—it's time to think about the mechanics of keeping in touch. How will you keep your battery charged? If you're hiking in the backwoods, you won't be able to carry a lot of weight, but a BioLite camp stove or solar charger could help. If you're traveling internationally, you'll need reliable access to electricity and an appropriate power converter.
Don't forget to take the time difference into account! Find a way to schedule calls so you don't forget to make them. Many satellite phones don't have the creative features you've gotten used to with smartphones. Depending on your circumstance, you may be best served with an old fashioned pocket calendar and telephone book!
Though it may seem like a lot of hassle, the benefits of setting up a well-formed network and staying in touch while you're away from home will be worth it.

An article by Meaghan Rodeck is a professional freelance writer who loves music, coffee and fantastic shoes. With a degree in Theatre, Meaghan knows she has a tendency to be a tad dramatic from time to tim

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Guest Post - Mika Kim on the Happiness Conference

The Sociolinguistics of Happiness    
I was honored to be asked to speak at this year’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) U.S. Conference in Vermont, the first State to adopt the use of a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) with legislative authorization to supplement the traditional Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  The focus was on the topics of happiness and well-being with a policy focal point that emphasized on measuring what matters.  More than 100 participants including political and government leaders, representatives of governments, international organizations, media and businesses, as well as leading economists, scholars, academics and spiritual leaders participated in the event.  This conference now reaching its fifth year was inspired by the High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm held at the United Nations in 2012.
Well-being, Wellness, Happiness, Quality of Life or Standard of Living?
One of the topics that repeatedly presented itself during discussions throughout the conference was the pragmatics of happiness.  Putting aside the confusion of the alphabet soup of metrics (GDP, GPI, GNH, GCH), how can we all navigate through the sociolinguistics of happiness so that we can each become effective communicators where we use the appropriate language given a particular setting? 

As with anything, knowing your audience is first and foremost the priority in being an effective communicator when engaging in a conversation about happiness.  When speaking with an economist, happiness is likely not the choice of words used on their day-to-day and will often lead to ambiguity.  The closest synonym would be “Standard of Living”, an indicator used by economists to gauge economic recession and recovery.  In order to bridge that gap between happiness and standard of living, one may want to consider the language using “Quality of Life”.  This is just one example of how we may need to alter our language to cater to our audience so that we can begin to have the next phase of dialogue about our true intention, happiness.
Similarly, with companies and organizations alike, the phrase that resonates closest to happiness is “Health & Wellness”, with programs being offered through the workplace to employees for premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships and other incentives to promote health and fitness.  By emphasizing the wellness programs that companies/organizations may already have in place to encourage healthier lifestyle behaviors that reduce health care spending, the transition into the discussion of well-being may be the most effective use of language. 
With the thoughtful consideration for the sociolinguistics of happiness, it’s my belief that we can spread and inspire more happiness in the world, one company, campus, community and city at a time. 

About Mika Kim

Mika Kim is a social entrepreneur and founder of a social enterprise that focus on social innovation.  In 2014, Mika launched a year-long Happiness Initiative campaign in Los Angeles to pursue the never attempted before effort to measure the quality of life of the residences, property/business owners and community stakeholders of Los Angeles.  She is excited to join the movement alongside the HA team to blog about her latest thoughts and discoveries on happiness.  Follow Mika via her company, Place of the Future, on Twitter @PlaceFuture and Facebook /PlaceoftheFuture.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tidbits on Happiness In Policy - At A Happiness Conference Post 7

Gwen Coleman of GPI Atlantic, the organization that helped form Bhutan's GNH and the Canadian Index of Wellbeing Index, gave a talk this morning. She began with the basis of the wellbeing and happiness indexes: ethics and values.

Gwen teaches GNH to youth in Bhutan. Because Gwen was one of those who helped form the concept of GNH.
She gave an example of a lesson:
What is happiness?
What is wellbeing?
The kind of happiness where you have enough to eat.
Have you ever seen someone starving in Bhutan?
Why not?
Because no Bhutanese person would ever see someone go hungary. Because they would give their food away.

It all comes to a spiritual or ethical path that is individual. What does wellbeing mean to you? She beings it down to: counting human, social, environmental, democratic, and other capitals. 

Most of Gwen's work focuses on an objective measure of wellbeing, the Genuine Progress Indicators. With this indicator, she has worked in Nova Scotia, Canada to measure happiness and wellbeing and influence policy. Examples of her work can be found here. She has also worked with the Mauri Nation in New Zealand to help them adopt the GPI, in short, revolutionary work. 

Past Governor of Vermont and current Vermont State Senator Anthony Pollina spoke about the importance of using the GPI and GNH. He gave the example of balancing the budget where the fallout was leaving clean-up for future years and healthcare needs unmet. He talked about how a singular focus on monetary goals is remedied by use of the GPI and how using the GPI can help address crucial issues of unemployment,  inequality and investing in renewable energy. He called on the building on of GPI.  

Tony Cortese spoke of the transformation from the old ways of thinking (and educating) that created the problems needing to be fixed. He created an organization called Second Nature and works with schools, and has had wide ranging. He gave us the foundations for change: building broad coalitions.