Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Happiness Report Card for the Coal Train in Washingtpn State

Trish Knox, a community activist and graduate of The Happiness Initiative's Train the Trainer program recently gave a talk at a rally and produced a Happiness Report Card for the Coal Train:

Coal Train Report Card
Sustainable Communities All Over Puget Sound (SCALLOPS) present a Coal Train Report Card based on nine domains of happiness from the United Nations’ Gross National Happiness and from the local Happiness Initiatives in Seattle and Victoria.  Happiness domains measure the well-being of people in a community, region and country. 
 Sustainable Ballard, Wallingford, Bremerton, Edmonds, Bothell, Redmond, Renton, Transition Woodinville and Transition Olympia
 ·         request that a study be done regarding the impact of coal trains on our environment and on nature.  We are concerned about air pollution and the serious health threats from coal dust as well as increased diesel fumes.  We are also concerned about the well-being of our native people and marine life at Cherry Point.
 ·         request that an impact study be done regarding the psychological effects of these coal trains.  We are concerned about noise pollution and traffic congestion during the day and the disruption of sleep patterns at night.  Adding so many trains would seriously hurt tourism and other business thus adding stress on people’s lives.
The nine sustainable communities endorsing this report card conclude that coal trains do not add to the well-being and happiness of our region and request that you give the Gateway Pacific Terminal project a “No Pass” grade.

Trish Knox, Founder                                                                       TransitionWoodinville.ning.com

Monday, December 17, 2012

Personal SafetyNets Newsletter on Happiness

Thank you to Judy and Ben for the newsletter on Happiness!
To subscribe email info@personalsafetynets.com
 Personal Safety Nets®
On the Road to Happiness December 2012, Issue 55
In This Issue
Letters . . . We Get Letters
Multigenerational Households
Charting a Course
PSN Newsletters
We Get Letters . . .

Editor's note: Get ahead of the curve - start 2013 off right - by recognizing that we are all connected, we all (or at least, most of us) want to help others, and that letting safe others into our lives is a good thing. Below we've included  Peter's letter (not his real name) illustrating how human it is to procrastinate, and how wonderful it is to be surprised by others. 

Dear PSN Staff:
I told my neighbors I was off to the hospital and would be gone a few days for tests. They immediately offered (no, demanded) to pick me up and take me home. They then blocked off time to take me home from my next hospital excursion - treatment. A network of support showed up at my front door much earlier than I had expected. As people found out about my undergoing treatment, offers of help started pouring in. Who knew?

Very shortly I'll have started a "calendar of events" on a spreadsheet - of who is doing what, when and where. I've started reading Personal Safety Nets - Getting Ready for Life's Inevitable Changes & Challenges - which is not strange because last year I attended one of their conferences. I just never thought it would be me - I'm so happy I went to the conference!

I'm over trying to figure out 'Why me" and just grateful that I learned about reaching out and forming a safety network.
 Regards, Peter

"Peter" could also think about involving someone else to set up the spreadsheets or organize assistance for him using some other system such as Care Brigade or CareZone. Yes, there are actually people out there - and you may be one of them - who like setting up systems, filling out insurance forms, giving rides ... They are just waiting for a need to pop up. So ASK ... and remember that a "no" or "not now" is a fine answer. You want the people you ask to feel free to offer when they really can, right? So, say "thank you" and keep asking! By the way, thank heavens Peter's getting along fine now.
Did You See
This One . . .
Rose glasses
Multigenerational Households
Did you know 51 million Americans live in households where some combination of parents, grandparents and children are living together?
This may not sound new to you - it's something that's been done in societies for centuries - but here's what is news - the number is increasing in the U.S. by more than 10% per year - a growth rate never seen in our country's history!
Multigenerational households have rapidly expanded in the last few years: one in six Americans currently lives in a multigenerational household.  (see Money Magazines' The New American Household: 3 Generations, 1 Roof) In 1980 multigenerational households accounted for 12% of the U.S. population. By 2010 that number had climbed to an estimated 16.1%, withabout 4.2 million of the 113.6 million U.S. households consist of three or more generations.

In "How I Did It: Survived Dad Moving In" (USAA  Magazine,
Fall 2012) award-winning writer, Laura Bond explains the emotional and financial sides to having a parent move in. Bond regales us with stories of some awkward moments, including tiptoeing in after midnight, running out of toilet paper, and loss of personal space. She also reminds us of the many benefits that have resulted from the growth of her multigenerational household.Shared resources, shared work loads, splitting costs,  consolidation, and increased communications have enriched and eased her life.
The growth of multigenerational households has spawned new ideas and an industry in mini-abodes that might be just the ticket for those who wish to have parents and/or grandparents live very close but not under the exact roof.  MEDCottage(also called GrannyPod) - is aprefabricated 12-by-24-foot bedroom-bathroom-kitchenette free-standing structure for the backyard. It's more than a miniature house - it's decked out with high-tech monitoring and safety features that rival those of many nursing homes. It may be expensive, but there areplenty of benefits to such an idea.

Before you commit to move-in, multi-generational or not, check out our two compatibility checklists. Using one (#1)before you start, and theother (#2) before finalizing will have the potential of saving you hours of grief, and supplying you with many moments of mirth. Whether you are thinking of having your sweetheart, your parent, an adult child, a cousin, niece, friend, or friend-of-a-friend move in, spending some timethinking through predictable issues will provide peace of mind and good boundaries for going forward. Enjoy! 
Charting a Course

Happy yet? Did thinking about this raise or lower your thoughts about how happy you are? Last month we ran a story about Bhutan and the Happiness Initiative. There was a lot of information there about being happy, finding out how happy you actually are, and getting happier. Next month we'll give you some more feedback; and in the meantime ... 
After reading the info on "The Happiness Initiative" some of our readers took a survey that helps predict conditions of well-being. (loosely defined as happiness). We'll have information on those results in an upcoming issue and if you didn't take the survey yet, and would like to, you can still do so - and have your friends take it too. (use the "forward this email" button at the end of this newsletter, please!) The results may surprise you. And next month it'll be interesting to see how you, our readers, fare and compare to people at large.

Then, a few readers reminded us of YES! Magazine's Sustainable Happiness edition, and the story ofDr. Tal Ben-Shahar, former Harvard University professor and his class,  "Positive Psychology." His was the most popular class ever offered at that University! Hearing this, we just had to delve deeper.

Happiness Avenue Known as the "happiness course,"  Positive Psychology  focused upon thepsychological aspects of a fulfilling life, including topics such as happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, love, achievement, creativity, music, spirituality and humor - and the idea of such a class quickly spread with more than
200 colleges and graduate schools in the United States who now offer a similar class. (Ben-Shahar's topics closely align with those of PSN.) 

Dr. Ben-Shahar, is the author of a number of profiles and books on happiness,  including:Life Changing Encounters (2011), Being Happy (2010) and Happier (2007). He says that you can learn to be happier, just as you can learn a foreign language, or to be proficient at golf. The best way to master such activities is to have an expert instruct you, and then for you to regularly practice what you are taught so that it becomes second nature.

Additionally, he adds, most of us need to unlearn certain habits and practices that undermine our ability to maximize personal happiness. It's important to live for both today and tomorrow and the need to incorporate both pleasure and meaning into life.

Tal Ben-Shahar's road-map or tips to happiness:
  • Give yourself permission to be human. When youEmotionsaccept emotions - such as fear, sadness, or anxiety - as natural, you are more likely to work with them. Rejecting emotions, even terming them "positive" or "negative", can easily lead to frustration and unhappiness.  

  • Find that intersection between pleasure and meaning. This is where happiness lies. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, try to have "happiness boosters", moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.  
  • Remember that happiness is mostly dependent on your state of mind, not on  status or the state  of your bank account.Barring extreme circumstances, your level of well-being is determined by what you choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by your interpretation of external events. For example, do you view failure as catastrophic, or do you see it as a learning opportunity?
  • Simplify! Americans are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.
  • Remember the mind-Mind Body Connectionbody connection. What you do - or don't do - with your body influences your mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.
  • GratitudeExpress gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.  
  • Bank happiness. It's a currency, the ultimate currency for which all other assets/experiences are traded. You might work hard to make money but you make money so you can buy things or experiences that bring happiness.   Focus on what matters. 
  • Pursue meaningful and pleasurable activities to significantly raise your level of well-being.    
  • Avoid thinking that happiness and pleasure are the same thing. Pleasure is the experience in the here and now - from having the sense of purpose that comes from the future benefit of today's actions. Experiencing positive emotions is necessary but not sufficient for happiness. Living for the day, but only the day, will not bring optimal happiness.
Dr. Ben-Shahar's work is music to our Personal Safety Net's ears. We've long been saying that we all need: 1) to be seen, 2) to be heard, 3) to matter to others. His work supports this wholly. And it also supports our belief  in the importance of seeing the abundance about us, and expressing gratitude.  

Happiness may not be a specific goal, but a pathway, worn one step at a time, as we humans walk together toward the future. It's a state of mind that invites participation and community. Sometimes rocky, sometimes soft . . . this path leads to good places.Happy New Year 2013

Please join us in the journey. And happy holidays to one and all!!
Connections Connections
Have something, a service that's worked for you to recommend? An approach to putting together a team for yourself or someone else? That worked or didn't? We'd love to hear from you. Please send us stories, articles, citations, and the helping organizations you'd love us to share with our readers.
Some readers highlighted the December issue of the AARP Bulletin, specifically an interesting poll on Volunteering. People were asked if, in the past year, they had volunteered for an organization of group. 46% of those aged 18-49 said "yes", while 54% of those aged 50-plus said yes.

Where did they choose to help? The younger volunteers  helped with children's groups most often (50%), followed by helping people experiencing homelessness (25%) and seniors (21%). Those in the 50-plus group gave their time to seniors (39%), children's groups (30%) and those experiencing homelessness (21%).

Where can you help out during this next year? The answer is anywhere your heart draws you! Many organizations need your help, so please consider giving of your time and talents. Ask friends, check with local synagogues, mosques or church groups, or google "finding volunteer opportunities". See you there!

Two wonderful quotes came our way this month:
The happy heart gives away the best. To know how to receive is also a most important gift, which cultivates generosity in others and keeps strong the cycle of life.
 - Dhyani Ywahoo
Voices of Our Ancestors
We need to go back to being people  who think in terms of the needs of others. Learn to be  kind in the Maori way, be grateful for what you have instead of asking for too much. Notice when your neighbor feels pain, sorrow, sickness . . . We have to try to rebalance things.
 - Ellman Emery
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repost: an article on measuring happiness in AlterNet

Saturday, December 15, 2012

TEDx Bellevue Sustainable Think Tank Happiness Winner

Last September, Anna Choi and a group of volunteers put on a TEDx in Bellevue. As part of the event, a challenge was given to the participants: what is an idea that could change the world for sustainable happiness?   Today, we post the winning response. 

The winner: Ruthi Landau, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington Medical Center

Her Idea: My idea is to pair, bring together, a child and an entrepreneur to conceive together a project. Through brainstorming, I envision that the child's idea, dream and possibly fantasy, will be transformed into a sustainable project implemented by the entrepreneur. I would love to see what a child's dream, through the magic, wisdom and power of an entrepreneur would look like. 

Posted by Laura Musikanski, ED of the Happiness Initiative