Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sending letters

I'm sending thank you letters today to the hand full of people who donate on a monthly basis.  In sharing a short version of all we have done this year with our donors, it occurred to me how much we have done.  I wanted to share the start of the list of our accomplishments:


Thank you so much for your monthly donations! It really does mean a lot to me that you do this and feels like a cheer each month.  

With a very small budget (less than $5,000 this year), we have managed to provide tools and resources, including the Gross National Happiness Index and toolkits like the Personal Happiness Roadmaps to over 42,000 people this year.  This year also saw the publication of Happiness In Public Policy by the Journal of Social Change and we were invited as the only grassroots organization to participate in the OECD 5th World Forum: Transforming Policy- Changing Lives. From that, we were invited to contribute to the WikiProgress site giving examples of work being done in communities. Here it is! 
 We also launched a whole new set of tools addressing really hard issues in happiness, that included the tool "Feeling Sad, Feeling Happy."

Attached you will find a receipt you can use for tax purposes. Please let me know of your ideas or suggestions for this very grassroots but impactful project!
Thank you!

There is so much more, but the short letter is a start. And in writing this I feel a bit overwhelmed by all that has been done this year, and all on the string in shoestring budget. I love this work, and am willing to do it without pay and at the expense of being able to afford many things money buys, but at the same time,  there is a cost to doing volunteer work when you are not wealthy (i.e. "can't afford it."). One of them is the dark times I go through emotionally feeling like the work I do is not valued by society. The notifications each month that come from those who give a little each month really do cheer me on.  

So, again, THANK YOU to all who donated this year <3.
Laura Musikanski
Happiness Alliance ED.

PS You can donate here. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Reinvented Resolution: How to Bring Real Change in the New Year

Thanksgiving, even Halloween, marks the start of the holiday marathon. Each mile along the way, we attend holiday parties, indulge in sweet treats, devour delicious foods and sip on tasty drinks. With each indulgence through the Christmas season, a promise is made to jumpstart the new year with a New Year's Resolution to eat less, eat healthily and most of all, get in shape. By Jan. 1, we cross the finish line, ready to kick this resolution into high

And that's great! It's fun to make a New Year's resolution and there's no better time than at the start of the year to make a healthy change. Yet, resolutions have a reputation for dissipating — only to disappear and re-emerge in 10 months. Sound familiar? If you want to begin a fitness renovation, here are tips to help ensure its permanence.

The Gym Isn't Your Resolution One Day at a Time

Empower your resolution by resolving to practice commitment and accountability, rather than "going to the gym six days a week." Your goal is to stay committed to an idea and hold yourself accountable. It's easy to excuse yourself from your gym responsibilities because of work stress, family obligations or lack of time. But can you accept that you dropped the ball on personal commitment and accountability? These are your New Year's resolutions — to live with commitment and hold yourself responsible. Embrace and follow through with these positive qualities. Your health and fitness will only improve as a side effect.

Track your feelings

Change is a struggle. It's natural to default to old habits, feel uncomfortable and want to give up. Don't expect a change to be fluid progress. There will be moments of defeat and feelings of discouragement that could lead you to want to abandon it all. Take it one day at a time. You may actually have to "start over" every single day. You may have a good week and then a bad two weeks. Your third week is a fresh start to begin again. The goal is the journey itself because living a healthy and active lifestyle is supposed to be never-ending.
Many experts recommend keeping a food journal as a way to track what and how much you're eating. Rather than using guilt and shame as a way to eat better, keep track about how eating better or working out makes you feel. You can do this with a journal, by noting a thumbs up or smiley face (or frown...) on your calendar, posting on facebook, or even by giving yourself a gold star for each time you do something for your health that leaves you feeling good. Find a way to keep track that fits with your personality. 

Exercise and increasing your heart rate releases endorphins that in the long run, after you get used to your routine, leaves you feeling good. Regularly working out also boosts serotonin levels, which can energize and create clearer thinking. Although you may feel great after a workout on day, you may forget about that high during work the next day when you're tired and feeling stressed.  By keeping track, you can remind yourself of the positive end result. Why wouldn't you want to feel that way again? The sweat and burn of an intense cycle class in the morning begins the day with an endorphin high. Completing a three-mile run after work leaves you proud with accomplishment. Keep track of your feelings after you exercise and use your data on you as inspiration for doing it again.
Fitness doesn't have to be an arduous, lonely task that's just part of your daily grind.  One of the most beneficial ways to work out is to take a 20 - 40 minute walk every day. Walking is something you can do at most any age.

Social Exercise

Another way to enhance your exercise routine by turning it into an event to experience
with your family or friends. For example, the idea of running 13.1 miles may not sound like a vacation. But what if you signed up to complete a half marathon in a beach town or city you've always wanted to visit? The challenge becomes more fun and something to look forward to. Invite your friends and family to be a part of your exercise, or they can support you along the way and join you at the finish line to celebrate.
-- Guest post by Social Monsters

Sunday, October 25, 2015

At the OECD world forum - post two

Reposted from Linked In
By Laura Musikanski

Last week was a whirlwind. I spent the first part of the week in Guadalajara, Mexico at the invitation of the OECD (organization for economic cooperation and development) to their 5th world forum on statistics, knowledge and policy: transforming policy changing lives. The second half of the week was spent in Phoenix, Arizona at the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS) at the invitation of the president of that society - more on that in another post. 
I want to tell you about the OECD meeting. There were over 1,200 people there. Most of them were high level policy makers, with a few academics sprinkled in. Pretty much all of them in suits.  I brought a colleague with me who is using the Gross National Happiness Index in her small community.   I think we were the only grassroots activists.  I'm not quite sure why they invited me...nevertheless, they did.

There were three talks I really wanted to attend featuring John Helliwell, Richard Layard, Gus O'Donnell and Jeffrey Sachs.  Helliwell and Layard spoke on happiness and sustainability.  I met Helliwell in 2012 at the UN high level meeting and have had several conversations with him since then. He is a great guy.  I really wanted to hear what he and Layard had to say, but the gods were against me. The meeting had been moved and while there was an abundance of beautiful tall women all dressed in black to tell one where to go, none of them could tell one the correct place to go. After checking the two plenary rooms, room one, two and three, I found the meeting in room four. Helliwell and Layard did re-cap their talk in the Q&A session: happiness and sustainability are inextricably linked  and the SDGs (meaning the United Nation's sustainable DevelopmentGoals) should be include happiness metrics.  Well, the World Happiness Report reflects this. I wished I could have heard the whole discussion (and maybe they will post the recording), but I did get to have a cocktail and snacks with Helliwell that night before we were treated to a spectacular show that night. 
Gus O'Donnell spoke on one of those panel so full it boggles the mind. If you have not read his work Wellbeing and Policy, you are in for a treat.  I loved what he said. He asked policy makers to ask "What are we doing wrong? What are we not measuring that we should? Where are we failing?"   I wish he had been given the entire time to go into why it is so important to look at our failings, explore our challenges in a real way, and be transparent about our mistakes.  I suspect most of those listening were not invigorated the way I was. I suspect that for most policy makers, the idea of publicly exploring, much less admitting, mistakes is anathema. But I liked what he said.

Jeffrey Sachs gave a keynote that sounded more like a lecture to students.  He started by telling us that he tells all his students: that most important decision they can make is who their parents are. I considered his words in the midst of the audience, and figured most of them had probably made a wise decision if the measure to determine whether it was a good choice is wealth and privilege. It was kind of a hard pill to swallow, since most of the other talks had been by the same policy makers who were in the audience and they had spent their time talking in platitudes about the importance of eradicating poverty. Just a few miles away from the conference center, there were children selling goods on the street.  I got a bit agitated and asked few questions at the end, which he did not really answer.

I left Guadalajara feeling a bit sad about the state of high level policy in the happiness movement. I've been working with lots of grassroots activists doing the work in their community that they are talking about. Helliwell did state the importance of bottom up (grassroots) efforts in conjunction with top-down and academic efforts (told you he is a great guy).  I wish there were a way to pool grassroots activists and high level policy makers and earnestly explore why this work is not reaching these high level policy makers  - one of the failure Gus O'Donnell spoke of.   

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

At the OECD fifth world forum - post one

OECD post one by Laura Musikanski

The music is grand, pounding thunder and hope. Last night They Were setting up the sound system as Kai, Laura Hannant and I put up posters and brochures for the Happiness arranged Booth at the OECD 5 th World Forum.

The announcer is introducing the President of the OECD, Governor of Jalisco State and other Officials With the intonations of a wrestling world championship event. The room holds over 1,000 people, mostly men in gray or blue well-fitting suits. Cameras on long reaching booms loom above us. The speeches are televised on three huge screens above each speaker, giving us a demonstration of what might be a very large bug's view. I have no idea what they are saying because they are speaking in Spanish.      

It's okay. I'm excited. Our happiness booth is one of 34 and definitely different. While we were
putting the finishing touches on it This Morning, Already People were milling about.    Laura H and I will be speaking at a session tomorrow spotlight about the gross national happiness index and the work Creston & District has done to measure wellbeing using the gross national happiness index.   I'm very interested to see how our interactions go at our booth today and tomorrow!  

Monday, September 28, 2015

Skip the Impulse Purchases for Lasting Happiness

Skip the Impulse Purchases for Lasting Happiness

Buying stuff can leave us feeling high. In fact, 75 percent of
 surveyed admitted to making impulse purchases
according to research by However, stuff alone cannot account for unadulterated happiness. Sure, getting that new French press, pair of heels or tie can be exhilarating in the moment, but impulse purchases rarely leave us with a sustainable feeling of well-being. Typically, whatever we purchased ends up collecting dust in a closet or cupboard somewhere, leaving us with only the memory of how it felt to find the deal. That being said, we can find ways to sustain our happiness that are not centered around things, but experiences.
Stuff in and of itself is not the enemy. It is when we fixate on things instead of the experiences we might be able to have with our things that leads to unsustainable forms of happiness. Science proves again and again that it is our connectivity to other human beings, and the environment in which we live that can have a larger impact than the material wealth we may have. According to the World Happiness report, the common threads around what makes people happiest are social and center around our experiences. So how can we generate these experiences?

Take a Vacation Already

As the Atlantic reports, Americans on average accrue 18 vacation days per year and only use 16, whereas our French counterparts use up to twice as much. Based on these statistics,Europeans seem to understand the value of taking a break and how productive it can be more than Americans. So, instead of sitting on a mountain of vacation time, use it. Take a trip somewhere you've always wanted to visit and enjoy the experience of disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of your daily life. Enough cannot be said about how effective a break can be in helping you reconnect with your family and loved ones and come back to work refreshed and rejuvenated.

Share Yourself

While stuff is not the answer to happiness, some stuff can help you better connect to the community around you. For example, your iPhone lets you connect to social media apps like Facebook,Twitter and Instagram to share your life with your friends and family. By sharing the things that matter to you and allowing others to experience them with you, you are able to enjoy things you might miss if you were depending on physically being present. Remember, technology can be a friend by helping you be a part of the lives of those you love who are far away or even close. 

Follow Your Passion

Have you always been interested in something but think you will do it when you have more time? Now is that time. When you make a purchase, spend for something you are passionate about helps you create lasting happiness. When we value genuine wealth, like that of engaging in the things we love, we create an environment for lasting happiness. Try charting what gives you a natural high, so you become more aware of the wealth you already possess and can make it happen more often. By allowing yourself the freedom and space to spend in the areas that matter most to you, you can generate the experiences that make you happiest.
Choose wisely where you spend your money and you are sure to see many returns.
Guest post. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Service and HAPPINESS

Service; participate actively to generate circles of HAPPINESS
A Totally Genuine Lovely creation
Post by  Alejandra Torpey is a professional in the learning and development industry, committed to serve for the integral development of people to empower them to perform at their best.

What is service? In a short and simple manner to explain it; is a wonderful thing, is something you do because you want to satisfy the needs of another being. I believe that you can serve to a dog when you feed him, you can serve a plant when you water it, but of course when you serve a person the feeling is amazing. By fulfilling the needs of a person, that person feels happy, and seeing and feeling such happiness that you gave them, makes you happy too. Is a two way road; a very gratifying road, I would say. Then, a circle of HAPPINESS is created.

In the past, the word “service” was underestimated and maybe even considered to be a meaningless activity. Nowadays, things have changed; a good service is what everybody wants everywhere they go then, you are a part of that too; don’t forget to provide a good service to those around you every time you can.

The power, nobility, honesty and meaning of service is very much valued and appreciated; as a  person. I haven’t seen a HAPPY person who is not willing to serve others and who can reserve for their own their good emotions and vibes instead of spreading them all over and radiating positivity.   

consequence, the person who provides the service is also appreciate it and valued. Then, it is in order to say that a person who is attentive and helpful to sever others, is a HAPPY

Imagine a Chef; they love cooking, is their passion! They feel HAPPY satisfying the taste of people  feeling, which is going to give their families satisfaction and joy to know their loved ones are doing awesome! Once more, a happy circle is being created based on the service.
with their creations; is more than filling empty stomachs, is providing a whole experience by means of what they do. When they receive the compliments of the guests, is a boost of energy to the Chef, a very rewarding emotion and a good Chef will share such compliments with everybody in the team because everyone in that kitchen (of course the waiters and waitresses too) served the guests; they made the guests HAPPY and that brought happiness and satisfaction to the working team who even if it was a crazy, rushing, long and tiring day, they are going to get home and share with their families: “today we were congratulated for our meals, or our service, or… whatever”. They are sharing a HAPPY
There are many types of services like: doing a favour to someone, is a service, and sometimes even if we not precisely told: “can you do me a favour”; when things are done, you know you contributed to something, someone and for a bigger benefit and purpose.

How many times at work we are told: “can you help me find this file, please”, “can you please remind me about this matter”… and the chain of service starts, because what you know or have, or do, is going to serve for something else and for somebody else. That’s what happens inside organizations, it doesn’t have to be an external person to call him/her a client; everybody around you is your client, because at any given moment you are going to need something from them and they are going to need something from you too.

Service is honest, service does not know envy or rivalry, it flows freely and does not feel like an obligation, things are being done on purpose for a purpose. When things are not done like this, harmony is broken.

In an organization every person is a member of the same team. If you serve your team members, you serve to yourself too and in the bigger picture you serve to the organization you represent by means of what you do and how you behave; and organizations serve the society. Again is a service cycle.

When people feel good at work, they are happy and a happy person is going to have a good attitude toward work, toward challenges, toward being asked to do something extra and very likely, will be willing to give that extra without even being asked for it. A happy person without doubt will add up to generate a good organizational climate and will be open to serve others.

Something to consider and to reflect about, what kind of people do
you want to have in your team? HAPPY people are more productive people. How can you contribute to serve HAPPILY to those around you? By putting a reliable smile on your face you already contribute a lot, and even help yourself too! Are you aware if the people in your team are HAPPY and honestly attentive and helpful in an honestly manner? Take the chance and the time to ask around; informal talks can serve better than strict organizational climate questionnaires. Use that information as a base to take action and to HAPPILY serve your people, serve your team; participate actively to generate circles of HAPPINESS!  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Please, make sure you are happy!

Please, make sure you are happy!
From A Totally Genuine Lovely creation  <3

Happiness… the single word feels amazing when you say it because of what it means, like if instantly it brings to your mind and spirit the idea of hope, peace, that everything is achievable, that everything is ok and is going to be ok… perhaps, the simple word can even make you smile.

Simple word, yes, happiness as it is a simple word, it is also simple to be, to feel, to breath, to live, to achieve!

What is happiness? I think there are different ways to define HAPPINESS some of them even scientifically speaking but is like when you are looking for any definition and you only get words that sound pretty interesting but do not give any practicality and, what is the point in knowing something that cannot be applicable! 

Happiness is a topic that although it has been gaining a lot of terrain lately in the personal as well as in the organizational level, it has always been present through history and is present in your life and in everyone’s life, is just something that we do not stop to think about. Like if the word and state of being of HAPPINESS is forbidden, but it is a right and a wonderful and necessary state of being! Is not a taboo to say the word HAPPINESS nonetheless, how many times do you listen to this word coming out from people’s mouths? That should be an interesting measure to do worldwide. Think about how many times have you said the word HAPPINESS, how many times have you experienced it? 

Maybe you haven’t been aware of it because we tend to misunderstand HAPPINESS with an extra amount of joy or even euphoria but like I said before, is much simpler than that. 
Happiness can come from a lot of sources and can have a lot of meanings, and the
important thing is always YOU. What brings YOU HAPPINESS? You do not need to compare to others, in fact is something the worlds needs to stop doing, comparing to others because that does not make any sense nor it helps because every creature is unique and therefore different and that essence is to be honored, you have to honor it by respecting it and respecting YOU.

Think about a time when you feel very well, perhaps because you found the book you have always to read, maybe because you received a message or a phone call from someone special to you; how did you feel? You felt HAPPY so this is what I mean when I say HAPPINESS comes from a lot of sources and has a lot of meanings. Those things that happened that made YOU feel HAPPY meant something for YOU, not for the person next to you or anybody else; maybe a friend of yours or your mom shared such HAPPINESS with you, but that is just a lovely complement of HAPPINESS to be able to share it, to spread it and be contagious about it with the people who surround you and the world!

But those were just moments of HAPPINESS then what to do to make it stay? Again is simple. Do you remember when you helped the neighbor because the bags of trash broke and everything spread all over the street? Or when you saw an elder person get on the bus and you offer your seat? That felt good right? And you did it because YOU felt it, nobody told you to do it, and you did it knowing that a “Thank You” might be all that you could get in return. But no, the reward is bigger than a “Thank You”, is like a touch to the soul and spirit knowing that you did something good for others that needed it. That is HAPPINESS, and although it seems that YOU are no longer the center of attention because you are giving to others, the reward functions in both ways. And then again, YOU did it, because YOU felt it, and YOU are rewarded so as the person that you just helped.

So you see, YOU are the most important piece for your HAPPINESS and HAPPINESS is a simple thing to feel, breath and live!

And don’t forget to Please, Make Sure YOU are HAPPY

Author  Alejandra Torpey is a professional in the learning and development industry, committed to serve for the integral development of people to empower them to perform at their best.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Seeking Happiness Blogger

Be the Happiness Blogger for this site.  
The Happiness Alliance is a deeply grassroots organization that is having large scale impact on the happiness movement. We are looking for someone with strong research capacity who loves to write and connect via social media and wants to contribute to the happiness movement. This is a great opportunity to build your reputation is a growing movement, spread knowledge and help make the world a better place for all.

What we are looking for:

  • Posts on the topics of positive psychology and the happiness movement. 
  • Issues ranging from social change, grassroots activism, community, the environment, government, policies and programs that contribute to the well-being of all people and the planet as well as tips and findings from researchers in the positive psychology movement.
  • Someone who is knowledgeable about the happiness movement, beyond GPD issues and positive psychology or who is eager to learn about the field. 
  • Someone who has a big-picture view who can also see and explain how the details fit or do not fit into the big-picture.
  • Three to four posts a month at the minimum.
  • Posts about 100-500 word.
  • Build traffic through use of social media.
What we offer:
  • Management of the Happiness Alliance blog.
  • Access to our social media sites, including a 8K on twitter feeds, 1K on facebook, storfiy and other s.m. 
  • Exposure to in our newsletter of over 7K.
  • Membership in our team.
  • Access to data, information and networking opportunities. 

This is a volunteer position. Email and send a sample of your writing. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Moving and Unhappy...

A guest post:
Anyone who tells you that moving isn't hard has probably never moved. Moving consists of taking every single thing you own in this world, packing it in a box, and trusting that it will arrive intact at a new location. But before you can even get to that-oh-so-very -fun part you

Some unhappiness is to be expected. You're exhausted, overwhelmed and probably wondering why in the heck you ever thought this was a good idea in the first place. If you've moved away from friends and family or moved to a totally new part of the country or world, then it's not only expected, it's predictable.

have to find a new house, possibly find a new job to go with that new house, and then you get to pack. What's more fun than packing, you ask? Why unpacking, of course!
There are some ways to help get over that relocation depression fast though — here are a few for all the movers and shakers out there!

Unpack those Boxes

The truck has arrived and delivered all your precious belongings. It's tempting to push a few 7 Stages of Grief: Moving Edition, this is comes somewhere between anger and depression. But, you'll actually feel a lot better as you start your new life if you take the time to put your house in order. Not to mention that putting those cardboard boxes in the recycling bin feels really, really good.
Putting the boxes into closets or unused bedrooms and ignore them, telling yourself that you'll get to them later— or, that possibly you don't really need the stuff in those boxes anyway - is not the best strategy for the long or short term.

Make New Friends

Ask for recommendations from places like your church or other organizations you belonged to in your old neighborhood for similar organizations in your new neighborhood. If that didn't pan put, then you can always start with your own eyes and ears. You'll undoubtedly make countless trips to the local hardware store and the grocery store as you get settled. Ask the friendly cashier if there are any nearby places that you could visit. You can also ask your new neighbors, and bonus — you'll meet your neighbors in the process. If all these tricks fail you, try joining a site like MeetUp, Nextdoor, a "Buy Nothing (Name of your neighborhood) Facebook group,where you can find a group custom fit for your interests. Join a book club, find a wine tasting group, find a group of movie buffs.
Having a new group of acquaintances that can turn into friends will go a long way to forming a support network for you, which leads directly to our next point.

Get Out of the House

As tempting as it is — especially when you're tired — staying cooped up in the house watching Netflix isn't good for snapping out of your relocation depression. Get out,get active, and get social. Go for walks in your neighborhood or at the local park. Find the nearest dog park and take Fido on an outing. Find a local gym and join. Exercise releases endorphins which are great for battling depression. Even if you've never been super active, just walking on the treadmill can make a significant difference.
Soon your new neighborhood will feel as comfortable as the old neighborhood, and you'll forget all about the anxiety of moving.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Happiness Dream: Summit for equitable sustainability for our planet

 Last year I posted a dream for a happiness collaboratory that emerged after attending the high level
meeting at the UN that officially launched the happiness movement. Well, that dream has not come true - but that had not stopped me from dreaming on!  It has been over a year since this dream hatched, so here it is: 

My dream: A strategic summit for building the happiness movement

Led by the small Himalayan nation of Bhutan, many countries and organizations   As yet, these movements are nascent and often poorly organized or even chaotic.  Serious strategic conversations are necessary to provide leadership for this hopeful new movement and unite its diverse strands.  Until now, “happiness conferences” have been broad affairs open to the general public and have not allowed leading experts and practitioners to strategize together in a meaningful way. Activists, academics and policy makers
throughout the world are looking to develop public policies and encourage personal change with a goal of increasing “equitable and sustainable wellbeing and happiness,” (GNH) rather than Gross Domestic Product.

What it is:  We propose a 3-day intensive meeting to bring together carefully chosen invitees to ponder key questions that are essential to driving the wellbeing and happiness movement forward: A Happiness Summit

Who would come:  The summit shall include no fewer than 20 and no more than 40 participants.

The format:  The summit would minimize oral presentations with perhaps only a handful of  speakers, chosen to set the framework for the conversation. .  Most of the work of the conference would take   The discussion would be oriented around key questions for the movement, such as: 
place in rotating small groups, using a world café model or other carefully facilitated group discussion format.

  • How does the movement effect social justice and environmental sustainability?
  • How can we effectively communicate these ideas to the general public?
  • What are the main opposition arguments from both Right and Left against making happiness and wellbeing a goal of government policy?
  • How do we understand the Bhutan domain model of wellbeing and happiness?
  • What is the nexus between the happiness movement and field of positive psychology?  
  • How can we measure well-being, happiness and sustainability objectively and subjectively?
  • What do the thousands of scores on the Gross National Happiness Index survey tell us about wellbeing and happiness in the US and its distribution among the population?
  • How might we promote the use of the Gross National Happiness Index in communities throughout the US and how might we translate its results into policy change and personal development?  How can we use the Gross National Happiness policy tool in assessing possible legislation?
  • What are the essential leverage points for interventions in the economy to improve wellbeing?  How might a Gross National Happiness policy tool help in choosing such interventions?
  • What are the “best practices” in the happiest countries and how might they be replicated in the US and elsewhere?
  • Where levels of government provide the most opportunity for policy interventions (eg. Local, state, federal) and what are some examples within the United States?
  • Who are the low-hanging fruit in terms of political support for GNH?
  • Where do I fit in and what role can I play in this happiness movement?  Where do  other organizations fit in?
  • How do we work together effectively?
  • Who else?

Participants will explore these questions in an interactive way, and will be encouraged to do some preliminary reading assignments.

More on who:  Carefully chosen experts and activists currently involved in the happiness and wellbeing movements.  Carefully selected public officials who are involved in the Genuine Progress Indicator and other wellbeing measures.  Expertise from each of the domains of wellbeing and for diversity in age, race, and gender among the participants.

Posted by Laura Musikanski, executive director of the Happiness Alliance

Monday, May 11, 2015

Brighten Someone’s Day - and your own - by Volunteering

Brighten Someone’s Day - and your own - by Volunteering

You may have noticed that you felt happier after volunteering for a great cause. An article on altruism and happiness on PBS explains that acts of kindness make people happier because it provides a sense of community with others, it helps people be more compassionate and find the good in others and it boosts people's self-esteem.

With so many ways to get involved and volunteer in your community, it can be hard to know where to start. Consider some of the following suggestions found below:

Global Volunteering

Do you want to volunteer in a big way? Are you looking for a reason to travel internationally? Look for worldwide programs, such as Doctors Without Borders, International Volunteer Programs Association or Global Volunteers. These programs can find you volunteer opportunities throughout the world based on your preferences and skills.

Food Banks

If you prefer to stay local, food banks or soup kitchens are a great choice because they are in most cities. Volunteering positions might include managing food intake and distribution or preparing the food for those in need. So, if you're a kitchen whiz, this could be the position for you.

Building Homes

If you like working outside and with your hands, consider volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The organization builds homes for those in need. If working with wood and a hammer isn't for you, there are a plethora of other volunteer positions available. Check out its website if you want more information.

Children's Hospitals

Children in hospital care often have to miss out on classic childhood experiences, such as field trips, sports, after-school activities and trick-or-treating on Halloween. You can help brighten their Halloween by dressing up in full costume while you volunteer. Pick a kid-friendly costume like a super hero or a silly full-body morphsuit.

Disaster Relief Organizations

If you desire to help people in the most desperate of situations, consider working for a disaster relief organization. One of the furthest-reaching and longest established organizations is the American Red Cross. Its workforce is composed of about 90 percent volunteers, who respond to about 70,000 disasters each year.


If you are a voracious reader, consider sharing your passion with kids. After all, strong reading and writing skills are fundamental to children's future success. There are many organizations that serve to increase literacy where you can volunteer. One such organization, 826, offers reading and writing programs in seven major cities. Learn more on the 826 website.


If you are an animal lover, consider volunteering at your local humane society. You can walk dogs, play with cats, help with adoptions or assist with general office work. Don't forget your furry friends when thinking of those in need.

Homeless Shelters

If you live in a medium to large city, chances are you have a local homeless shelter. These shelters need volunteers to distribute meals, run programs and collect clothes and materials. If you are qualified, you could even provide counseling or job training, and help instill others with skills that will last a lifetime.

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