Showing posts from March 31, 2019

Brink of Extinction

Anna Louisa first became interested in Faroese ponies because of a children's book. She soon learned that these enchanting creatures, ponies by size but often called horses due to their strength, were almost extinct. Between 1850 and 1920 large numbers of them were exported from their home in the Faroe Islands. By 1960 there were only five left in the wild. Fortunately they have made a remarkable comeback due largely to "the lady with the horses."

Why Governments Should Care More about Happiness

Pioneering psychologist Ed Diener explains how policymakers can facilitate the pursuit of happiness.

By Sherif Arafa

How to promote happiness?

This is not an easy question to answer, of course, given how multidimensional a phenomenon happiness can be. Some researchers focus on small groups of people to figure out what makes the individual happier, while others investigate the bigger picture of what promotes happiness in countries and nations. One of the leading scientists who has studied both these perspectives is Ed Diener. A pioneer in positive psychology, he crafted a widely used definition of happiness (as “subjective well-being”) that features in a large number of studies and country rankings.

Diener is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and the University of Utah, and senior scientist for the Gallup Organization. I had the privilege of interviewing him to talk about what makes individuals and nations happy and the newest developments in happiness research.


Ceres Community Project

According to the food and agriculture organization there are 821 million people struggling with hunger worldwide. Though more prevalent in developing countries, it is present even in wealthy nations. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 40 million Americans struggle to feed themselves and their children sufficiently. These households have difficulty purchasing adequately nutritional food, eat less frequently, or may even skip meals entirely. To combat food insufficiency in her community, Cathryn Couch began preparing and delivering healthy, homegrown, organic vegetarian meals for those in need. Her effort blossomed into the Ceres Community Project in California's Marin and Sonoma counties. Offering enlightening volunteering opportunities to youth and catering to low-income, or struggling households that don't qualify for other services, the Ceres Community Project is the beginning of a wave of kindness that is inspiring other communities thro…

Elegant Simplicity & Right Relationship

"Elegant simplicity can only be built on the firm foundation of right relationships. Our crises-mental, personal, social, economic, environmental, political, cultural, and religious-- have their origin in disconnection and separation. The moment we see that all things are connected, that we are all related, that everything depends on everything else, we start to see solutions. [...] When all our interactions are embedded in friendships and loving relationships, then we will act from a position of patience, acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, and generosity." Long-time peace activist Satish Kumar shares more on right relationship in this excerpt from his new book 'Elegant Simplicity.'

What Happens When We Seek Status Instead of Goodness?

The college-admissions scandal reveals how far we're willing to go in seeking status—but there's a healthier alternative.

By Elizabeth Svoboda

This month, more than a dozen wealthy parents will appear in a Boston federal court, accused of using a criminal “side door” to get their kids into prestigious schools. Among those on the U.S. attorney’s star-studded list of indictments are Lori Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky in Fuller House, and Felicity Huffman, a Desperate Housewives regular. These parents bribed coaches with hundreds of thousands of dollars, took fake recruiting photos, and had their kids cheat on tests, all to score admission to schools like Yale, Stanford, and the University of Southern California.

While they might seem irrationally status-obsessed, they’re not outliers. The allure of brand-name schools was strong when I applied to colleges as a teenager. In my competitive high school, it was almost a given that you’d attend the most selective college you could g…

Phil Cass: Shifting the Healthcare Paradigm

Phil Cass is making a difference in Columbus, Ohio. He describes how shocked he was to discover that physicians have become the #1 group of people who commit suicide in the U.S. Working with staff, he remade the culture of the medical association, and their affiliate corporations, into a highly participatory culture and spearheaded the creation a free health care clinic for the uninsured. Over 5,000 Physicians now volunteer in it. As Cass says, "I do think that a good heart, a strong heart and a real heart, well positioned--I don't know if it can change the world, but I know it can change the world around you."

Does the Warm Glow of Giving Ever Get Old?

New research suggests that spending money on ourselves gets old fast, but not spending money on others.

By Elizabeth Hopper

Imagine what it would be like to eat at your favorite restaurant every day. Going there would be exciting at first, but with time it would simply become part of your routine—and you might even get bored with it.

Past research has found that we adapt surprisingly quickly to the good things we get in life, a phenomenon psychologists call hedonic adaptation. Doing something for the first time is likely to make us happier than doing something for the fiftieth time; we get used to it and take it for granted.

But do we adapt in the same way to giving good things to others? Research suggests that people who spend money on someone else experience a larger boost in happiness than people who spend money on themselves, at least in the short term. A recent study in the journal Psychological Science set out to test how the benefits of giving and getting compare over time, as they…

The Age of Overwhelm: Strategies for the Long Haul

"Report after report documents how--despite more technologies aimed at connecting people, ideas, and information--people of all ages continue to experience greater and greater social and personal disconnection. Why? Well, our body, mind, and spirit can only keep up with so much. When overloaded, we may disconnect because it all is too much or feels like it is too much. Disconnecting from our self and our immediate surroundings may have been a conscious or unconscious strategy from back in the day that helped us to get through. But if we don't tend to those circumstances, past and present, and if we don't constantly hone our ability to remain connected to ourselves, even amid what may feel untenable, we may unconsciously or consciously disconnect. And disconnection from ourselves can creep in gradually, stealthily, because of what we choose to expose ourselves to or happen to be exposed to." Founder of the Trauma Stewardship Institute Laura van Dernoot sh…

How to Stop Your Smartphone from Hurting Your Health

You can manage your technology use to protect your health and happiness.

By Mark Bertin

As psychologist Chris Willard often says, our phones can be our greatest enemy or greatest friend. While they can save us time and energy, educate and entertain us, and keep us safe in emergencies, they can also distract us from the things we need in life to stay happy and healthy. 

And that distraction is often more than a casual annoyance. That’s because everything from our newsfeeds to our cell phone’s notification style follows proven algorithms that aim to keep us attached. As with slot machines, our phones train us to crave the next exciting, momentary distraction, and get sucked into checking every moment we are bored. Quite literally, phones are designed to fix our attention on the screen, not to promote healthy behavior.

Healthy living today requires defining the time and place for technology. It’s an exercise in self-awareness, because while we have the tools and knowledge to live well, we …

Who Gets to Cry?

Climate change is destroying many places we love points out Trebbe Johnson, and while some of us turn away from admitting this, others are filled with sorrow. But here's what's most difficult: "Many of us are simply afraid that if we allow ourselves to wade, even for a moment, into the feelings of sadness for the living world that lap at the edge of our consciousness, we will find ourselves pulled so ruthlessly into grief and despair that we will never emerge." So how to grieve wisely and honestly?

Befriending Our Despair

Joanna Rogers Macy is an environmental activist, author, and scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. In this short video she advises that pain alerts us to what needs attention. Pain is not the enemy of cheerfulness, but tells us there is suffering. When we face suffering, our hearts and eyes open to beauty. We are not alone in our despair and when we have the courage to speak of it, it cracks open so the love can be found. The key is not being afraid of the pain, not being afraid of the worlds suffering. If you arent afraid, nothing can stop you.