Happiness Evangelist

The Place to Be Happy is Here…


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Stress-free. Really.

We all feel stressed at some point in time or the other. Stress is not caused by any single event but results from the complex interactions between many events and may lead to a physiological or a psychological reaction.

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In order to find joy in our journey, Greg McKeown, in his article: Reduce your stress in two minutes a day, suggests five habits – ordinary by themselves, but together, prove life-changing.

  1. Breathing.  
    1. Start small by taking three deep breaths each time you sit at your desk.
    2. After the 3 breaths becomes a habit, expand it to a few minutes each day
    3. Do this for 30 minutes every day
    4. Advantage: A relaxed, patient, calmer, more in the moment, YOU. It restores perspective while enabling you take a fresh look at a question or problem and come up with new solutions. Recent research done at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital highlight the positive impact deep breathing has on the body’s ability to deal with stress.
  2. Meditating.
    1. Start with a minute each day
    2. The meditation could consist of “body scanning” which involves focusing the mind and energy on each section of the body from head to toe. (You could try these two resources by Dr. Shyam Bhat on Progressive Muscle Relaxation: http://shyambhat.com/archives/1341 and Relaxation and Mindfulness: http://shyambhat.com/archives/1042)
    3. Advantage: Research at Harvard has shown meditating for as little as 8 weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning.
  3. Listening.
    1. a.   If we concentrate on listening to others with the same focus that we use during meditation, the interaction becomes richer and a bond is formed.
    2. Advantage: As Professor Graham Bodie has empirically noted, “listening is the quintessential positive interpersonal communication behavior”
  4. Questioning.
    1. This is about questioning the thoughts our mind creates. “Is that thought true?”
    2. If you are not absolutely certain it is, just let it go.
    3. Advantage: This is liberating as it provides an outlet for negative thoughts. There is power in acknowledging rather than repressing negative thoughts as suggested by Byron Katie.
  5. Purpose.
    1. Commit to purposefully do whatever you are doing.
    2. To do only that and nothing else at that moment (Very difficult!!)
    3. For example: If you are having a meal, take the time to savour the meal.
    4. Advantage: In “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email” Gloria Mark and Armand Cardello cite evidence to suggest “knowledge workers check email as much as 36 times an hour. The result is increased stress. Giving each activity your undivided attention ensures you’re in the moment and fully living that experience”.

An important key is to start small – very small. This is important as we cannot take on stress in a stressful way. “Often we try to bring about change through sheer effort and we put all of our energy into a new initiative. But you can’t beat stress using the same techniques that created the stress in the first place”.

Another key is to do less than you feel you want to. “If you feel like breathing for two minutes, do it for just one minute. If you are up for a day of really listening to people deeply, do it for the next meeting only. Leave yourself eager to try it again”.

What is important that these 5 habits should be sustainable in order to develop a stress-free approach to What you want is to develop a sustainable habit: a stress-free approach to reduce stress!!

Best wishes for a Happy and Stress-free 2014 🙂


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Respect Equals Happiness

In a series of experiments, researchers found that the level of respect and admiration we receive (not wealth or success) predicts happiness. (Anderson, Cameron, Kraus, Michael W., Gainsky, Adam D. and Keltner, Dacher (2011). The Local Ladder Effect: Social Status and Subjective Well-being, Working Paper Series, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment)

They call this level of respect, “SOCIO-METRIC STATUS” as opposed to “socio-economic status”.

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Experiment 1:

  • 80 college students from 14 different student groups rated how much they respected and admired the other people in their group, and how respected and admired they felt themselves.
  • They also answered questions about their family’s income and their own level of happiness.
  • Those with higher socio-metric status reported greater happiness, whereas their socio-economic status was not linked to their happiness.

Experiment 2:

  • 300 people answered questions about the respect and admiration they received within their friends, family, and work circles.
  • They also reported their personal sense of power in those social circles, and how liked and accepted they felt, along with their income and happiness.
  • People of high sociometric status were found to be happier than those with high socioeconomic status.

Experiment 3:

  • 156 MBA students were tracked from shortly before their B-School graduation through 9 months after graduation in their jobs.
  • For many, there was a change in their sociometric status. For example, a student respected on campus was disrespected at his job even if his income went up.
  • The results show that as sociometric status increased or decreased, their happiness levels rose or fell accordingly.

These experiments suggest that what really matters is RESPECT. And that Respect = Happiness

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At Happiest Minds…

We endeavour to be a RESPECTFUL community.

…we commit to be polite and courteous, with our colleagues & our customers, in our interactions & conversations.

…we commit to treat one another with consideration and sensitivity.

…we commit to show kindness and concern.

…we commit to be caring and thoughtful.

I am making this commitment. Would you too?


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Mandela – A Citizen with Choices

It was on a warm February day in 1990 that an old man emerged from prison gates.

Free.

Finally free.

…after twenty seven years of counting prison bars.

The world outside had changed.

His family had grown older.

He had grown older.

But what remained intact through all those years of waiting, was his dignity.

He walked.

To shape his own destiny.

To a future entwined with his country that he would lead.

And lead he did.

With humility.

With compassion.

With integrity.

With humanity.

South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, said on CNN “Our nation has lost its greatest son.” (Full text here).

Our thoughts, today, are with Nelson Mandela’s family, his friends, his comrades, his colleagues and the millions around the world who embraced him as their own.

Madiba, as he was fondly known, had choices…

ImageA CHOICE between carrying his hatred into his freedom, or achieving reconciliation where it seemed least likely.

“As I walked out toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”

A CHOICE to grow the godlike image that people built up around him or the wisdom to present himself as an ordinary man, devoid of public ego, but interested only in the larger good.

“I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did.” 

A CHOICE to settle for something small or never give up until he had made a difference.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”

 

We have CHOICES too…

A Choice to Shape Our Destiny

A Choice to Be Happy

How do we exercise that choice?